About EHR

What is an Electronic Health Record (EHR)?
Electronic health records (EHRs) are like your current paper health records, except that the information such as your doctor’s notes, test results, X-ray images, MRI scans, etc., are put into a computer system and loaded onto a secure database, rather than recorded on paper. EHRs contain the same information as paper records, but are more easily and efficiently shared between doctors’ offices, hospitals, and patients because they can be electronically transmitted from computer to computer.

Why should I want EHRs?
EHRs are more easily available to medical professionals and yourself. If your primary care physician refers you to a specialist, your records can be sent electronically to the specialist’s office, reducing the need to fill out the same forms over and over again, pick up and bring test results, or remember the list of your current medications and their dosages. Having all of this information readily available reduces the risk that you might forget to mention a symptom or medication, potentially compromising the care that we will receive.

If it's electronic, will I have to learn a new complicated technology?
Your healthcare provider has selected an EHR software system from among the best in class packages available, and they are certified to meet standards evaluated by the Florida Health Information Network. Rest assured that you will not have to install any software in order to access your records. Access to the EHR system is similar to online banking, tax preparation applications, and other web-based records with which you may be familiar.

How will my healthcare providers use my EHR?
Doctors can send your prescriptions directly to the pharmacy in electronic format, reducing the chance that poor handwriting could keep you from receiving the correct type and dosage of medication, or cause a delay while your pharmacist.

What if I don’t want to participate?
Your doctor’s office must ask for your permission to enroll you in EHR, and at that time, you will be given the opportunity to opt out.

How can I review my records?
Access to EHR systems is similar to online banking, tax preparation applications, and other web-based records with which you may be familiar. Each healthcare provider you visit may have its own EHR system, but centralized services will evolve to make it easier to see all of your records in one place. It is also likely that your health insurance provider will facilitate access to your records. Google and Microsoft both offer personal services for compiling health records in a single place: Google Health at health.google.com and Microsoft’s HealthVault at www.healthvault.com. If you do not have Internet access, expect to be able to receive a hard copy of your electronic records from your healthcare provider.

If it's online, won't hackers be able to steal my information?
EHR systems are designed with security in mind, and must meet standards developed in conjunction with the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Just like your online banking service provider, your EHR records will be kept in secure data centers, not on a computer in your doctor’s office, in encrypted formats that require a password to access. Your healthcare provider will be able to describe the security precautions that have been taken to protect your personal data.

Will EHRs affect the interaction between my doctor and me?
The purpose of EHRs is to improve efficiency and communication. As a result, you might discover that your doctors have more time to listen to you once they start using the technology in their offices.

How can I be a part of the decisions being made regarding the digitizing of my personal health records?
Most healthcare providers are digitizing their existing paper records on an as-needed basis, usually within a few weeks before your next scheduled appointment. You will want to contact the office and ask what the policy is on the newly digitized records, so that you can review the information they have for accuracy.

Will the different electronic systems in different doctor’s offices be able to talk to each other?
Your Florida healthcare providers who are adopting EHRs will be selecting software systems from among the best-in-class packages evaluated by the Florida Health Information Network. A very important part of their decision-making process has been to ensure that that the systems they chose will talk to other systems. Standards have been developed for different EHR systems from different healthcare providers to work together, so that the electronic prescription created by your doctor can be processed by your pharmacist, and your billing information seamlessly processed by your health insurance provider.

Will anyone sell my health records to marketers?
Your healthcare providers will provide you with a Privacy Policy, just like other services such as online banking and tax return preparers. However, unlike these businesses, healthcare records are protected by federal regulations under HIPAA that prevent sharing your personal data with third parties, such as marketers, and strict penalties exist to discourage breaking the law.