Knowledge Library

Patient Rights of Access to Medical Information

Much of the discussion around patient privacy and confidentiality centers around appropriately restricting and securing access to protected health information, and this is for good reason- threats such as data breaches and cyber attacks often dominate the news, and medical practices are understandably concerned about the risks of litigation and bad publicity associated with privacy violations.    It is important, however, to remember that patients have the right to access, and in some cases to direct others to access, their medical information in a timely fashion and at a reasonable cost.  Providers own their physical records, but patients increasingly expect to have the ability to exercise their legal rights to the information contained in those records.  Laws pertaining to medical...

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Smartphones and Texting with Patients

Text messaging or SMS (short message service) has become the virtual default method of direct communication in today’s society. As regular mail and even personal emails are increasingly as difficult to find as needles in virtual haystacks, and there is less and less time for telephone calls, individuals who want timely responses are using text messages to communicate- and this expectation is present in healthcare as well. Consider the following statistics: 95% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of being sent. (Forbes) 98% of text messages are read. (Physician Practice News) 91% of US adults 65+ own a...

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Using Email to Communicate with Patients

Email is increasingly used as an efficient communication tool in all industries, and healthcare is no exception. With the constant presence of the internet, smart mobile devices, and social media, patients are increasingly expecting to be able to communicate electronically with their medical providers. While healthcare providers were initially slower to embrace electronic communication, they are now also becoming increasingly dependent on the efficiency that electronic communication provides, both for communication between providers and with patients. Email certainly can be a valuable and time-saving communication tool to augment face-to-face interactions, if used properly, but it may create liability problems for...

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