Commenting on the hope that America’s new Constitution would lead to a sense of permanence and stability, Benjamin Franklin wrote to Jean-Baptiste Leroy stating “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
You can’t escape either one, no matter what your status or position. The same holds true for medical records, the details of your health history from the day you were born until the day you draw your final breath. They provide the data that could save your life in an emergency, and wherever you go, doctors and hospitals can access that information and use it to deliver adequate and appropriate care. In one way that’s a blessing, but in another way it puts your medical records right up there with death and taxes: inescapable, unavoidable, and, until recently, beyond your control.
Anyone considering taking an online medical assisting degree needs to be fully versed on the ins and outs of patient confidentiality. These days records are stored digitally, leaving them vulnerable to internal and external manipulation, sometimes accidental and sometimes malicious in its execution. Keeping health information online presents patients with a number of opportunities that would have been unthinkable to earlier generations, such as:
• Having health information at your fingertips
• Making amendments and corrections to your data
• Accessing immunization records and historical information
Such a system brings benefits for everyone, from the patients in your care to the colleagues working within your department or organization. Online availability of medical records speeds up certain procedures as well, from getting information to a specialist to looking up recent laboratory results. For a system of this nature to work on a national level, and to function in line with HIPAA guidelines, it has to ensure a high level of privacy and security.
During the course of your online medical assisting degree you’ll discover that issues surrounding security and patient privacy are never far away. Even the most secure portals are at risk, with hackers eager to prove they can penetrate the toughest defenses. The system needs to be monitored to ensure that patients, employers, health professionals and insurance companies are given access to the information they need to make informed decisions, but in such a way that makes it impossible to defraud or otherwise manipulate the data for personal or financial benefit.
Any comprehensive online medical assisting degree should prepare you for dealing with patients in person, including the potential for real-world experience at a selected health care facility. The proper and ethical use of medical records and the information they contain must also be studied with equal vigor to ensure protection for all parties involved.