Medical records will be secured, confidential – Health Authority

The original article can be found in: BVI News

As the Health Services Authority prepares to complete its phased electronic information system by the end of April, it is trying to allay fears about privacy and the likely unauthorized access to medical records.

The Health Information System was partially launched yesterday as part of the gradual replacement of paper records.

Patients’ records are now being stored in computer software and will be accessible at all health facilities across the territory.

Each patient is being offered a health card that bears a bar-code which – when swiped – will locate their medical files. Health practitioners will also be able to keep in touch with patients via text messages or emails.

Mario Mohammed – Managing Director of RioMed which owns the software and is based in the UK – said patients will also eventually be able to check their own medical records online. “Later on, at a time to be defined by the Board {of the Health Authority}, we will allow patients to access their records online and book appointments with selected healthcare professionals across your network.”

With the dramatic changes in the storage of sensitive medical information on software, questions have been raised about whether patient’s privacy has been placed at greater risk.

In response, Mohammed said: “Information is provided to persons or healthcare professionals who need it. You can’t just go into a system and search your record, or my record, or the Chairman’s record, or CEO’s record without a legitimate relationship to that patient.

“Each aspect of accessing the record also carries a full audit trail. So we know who is logged on, what time they have logged on, which screens they have seen, which patient record they have accessed and when they have logged out.”

Defending the integrity of the software, Mohammed further stated that the system has been “extremely well tested” in places like Ireland where he said about 75 percent of hospitals now use the application to assess patients on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Information Technician Manager at the BVI Health Services Authority Mikey Farara said a number of security features have been put in place to minimize the chances of hacking and other unauthorized access by persons outside the hospital.

“Even though the application is a web-based application, the application right now is run internally on our network. So, in terms of outside access, right now there is no outside access to the system.

“Of course with any network, we have our typical fire-walling and other security measures in place. Once we go fully online at the end when patients will have access, that’s when we will also increase our security to try and minimize risk.”

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