Medical records are a crucial part of healthcare, helping doctors provide the best care for their patients. But there's an ongoing debate about who owns medical records: clinics or the software companies that manage them.
In this article, we will argue that clinics should be the rightful owners of patients' health records. By giving clinics ownership, we can protect patient privacy and ensure they receive the care they need.
Understanding the Importance of Medical Records
Patient data is more than just papers with information. It contains private and sensitive details about health, treatments, and personal information. These records help doctors to:
- Understand a patient's medical history.
- Plan their treatment.
- And ensure their safety.
At Medesk, information about each patient is stored in an individual electronic medical record. It allows you to view all the services rendered to him during the treatment at the clinic. The attending physician can get acquainted with the patient's medical history, view all the appointments and reports that were written by other doctors, as well as compare the results of current and previous analyses of the patient.Open the description >>
They also allow different health professionals to work together effectively. Since clinics are the ones responsible for providing healthcare services, it makes sense for them to own and manage these records.
Legal Considerations and Patient Ownership
Laws like HIPAA in the United States protect patient privacy and give them control over their medical information. Patients are the ones who the records are about, so they should have ownership rights and patient access.
But it's also important to recognize that clinics, as public health providers, should have ownership as well. Some may argue that practice management software managers should own the records because they host the data and provide the software. It is important, however, to prioritize patient privacy and control over the records of the patient.
What does the law have to say?
In the United Kingdom, patients' medical records are legally owned based on existing laws and regulations.
The Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provide guidelines on personal data ownership and management, including hospital records. Under these regulations, individuals, including patients, have certain rights over their personal data.
Clinics, as healthcare providers, have a legal duty of care to their patients. They are responsible for collecting, storing, and protecting patients' personal data, including medical records, in compliance with data protection laws. Clinics are data controllers under these regulations, as they determine the purposes and means of processing patients' personal data.
Patient records of NHS hospitals are owned by a trust or a health board.
While practice management software managers play a crucial role in managing and digitizing medical records, they are considered data processors rather than data owners. Data processors act on behalf of the data controller (the clinic) and must process data in accordance with the controller's instructions and the requirements of data protection laws.
With the Medesk platform, we guarantee 100% security and reliability. All your data is protected during the transmission and storage. You can also set up different access levels for your colleagues.Learn more >>
Do providers need a contract with PMS as a records manager?
To establish ownership and control over medical records, clinics and practice management software managers typically enter into contractual agreements. These agreements define both parties' rights and responsibilities regarding care records management and access.
It is important for these contracts to explicitly state that the clinics retain ownership of the medical records. In addition, they must grant necessary access rights to the software managers for data processing and management purposes.
It is also worth noting that professional regulatory bodies, such as the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), have guidelines and ethical standards that emphasize healthcare professionals' responsibility to maintain the confidentiality and security of patient information.
The Role of Practice Management Software
Practice management software has made a big impact on healthcare. It uses computer programs to digitize and organize health information, making it more accessible and easier to manage. This technology has many benefits.
- It saves time.
- Improves efficiency.
- Analyzes data to improve patient care.
- Protects data and from breaching.
Practice management software plays an important role in keeping medical records secure and accurate. However, it should be seen as a helper rather than an owner of records.
Here are some key roles of practice management software in keeping medical records.
It helps you to switch from paper-based records to electronic health records (EHRs). So health and social care providers can convert physical records into digital format, making them easily accessible, and shareable.
Practice management software provides a centralized repository for storing medical records. This eliminates the need for physical storage space and minimizes the risk of records loss or damage.
Accessibility and availability
With practice management software, a copy of your records can be accessed from anywhere at any time, as long as there is an internet connection. This accessibility improves efficiency and enables healthcare providers to retrieve patient information promptly, leading to better decision-making and improved patient care.
Records can be sorted based on patient demographics, test results, medical conditions, treatments, and other relevant parameters. This organization facilitates easy navigation and retrieval of specific records when required.
Security and privacy
Practice management software employs robust security measures to protect patient records' confidentiality and privacy. It includes features like user authentication, encryption, audit trails, and access requests and controls.
Modern practice management software enables seamless exchange of health records among different providers and systems. Interoperable software facilitates continuity of care, as patient information can be securely shared between clinics, hospitals, laboratories, and other healthcare entities.
What Rights do Patients Have?
In the United Kingdom, patients have certain legal rights over their medical records. These rights are protected by laws and regulations aimed at safeguarding personal data and ensuring patient privacy.
Right of access, meaning they can request a copy of their records and any information held about them by healthcare providers, including clinics and hospitals.
Right to rectification. If patients believe that their medical records contain inaccurate or incomplete information, they have the right to request correction or updating.
Right to erasure, meaning they have the right to request the erasure of their medical records in certain circumstances. One of the exceptions is when the retention of the records is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation or for legal claims.
Right to restrict processing, meaning that the healthcare provider can continue to store the records but must limit the processing activities they undertake with the data.
Right to data portability. Patients have the right to receive a copy of their medical records in a structured, machine-readable, and commonly used format.
Right to complaint, meaning they have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in the UK. The ICO is the independent authority responsible for enforcing data protection laws.
Empowering Clinics as the Rightful Owners
Giving clinics ownership of medical records has several advantages. It ensures that patients have more say in their healthcare decisions. When clinics own the records, they can better coordinate care among different providers. Clinics also can protect patient privacy and confidentiality. It is possible for them to ensure that only authorized people have access to patient information.
To strengthen clinics' ownership rights, clear agreements should be made between clinics and software managers. These agreements should clearly state that clinics own records and control them.
Policymakers should also recognize and support clinics' ownership of medical records. They can do this by creating laws that protect clinics' ownership rights. Additionally, developing systems that allow easy data sharing between clinics and software managers will help manage records effectively.
Clinics should be recognized as the rightful owners of patients' medical records. These records are essential for providing quality healthcare. By giving clinics ownership, we protect patient privacy, ensure coordination among healthcare providers, and empower patients to make decisions about their own health.
It's a necessity for clinics, software managers, and policymakers to work together to find the right balance between ownership and managing medical records. As a result, patients will receive the best care while their information remains secure.