Risk Management Tools & Resources

 

Using Your EHR System as a Quality Improvement Tool

Using Your EHR System as a Quality Improvement Tool

The concept of quality improvement is discussed frequently among members of the healthcare community. We generally understand that to improve patient outcomes, we must improve performance, or the delivery of care.

Yet, when juggling implementation of new evidence-based practices, adoption of new technologies, and healthcare reform, it is easy for "quality improvement" to become just a phrase rather than a daily conscious focus for healthcare providers.

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Take a Proactive Approach to Protecting Patients' Electronic Health Information

Privacy and security of patients' protected health information (PHI) have been at the forefront of healthcare for a number of years. Most healthcare professionals are well aware of their obligations to protect PHI under state and federal regulations.

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Ctrl C + Ctrl V = A Serious Patient Safety Issue

Electronic health records (EHRs) have revolutionized the documentation of patient care. For a large number of healthcare practitioners, paper records are a relic of the past, replaced by exam room computers and digital interfaces. Yet, no change is without challenges, and EHRs — like many other technologies — have proven to sit at a complex intersection of benefits and risks.

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CASE STUDY: Physician's Tweets Prove Costly

A state medical board received a complaint that an internal medicine physician in a small town was tweeting about specific patients without their knowledge or consent over a 12-month period. The medical board initiated an investigation into whether the physician's actions constituted (a) a breach of doctor–patient confidentiality (b) a violation of laws connected with practice, and/or (c) unprofessional conduct.

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CASE STUDY: Online Dispute Becomes Problematic for General Dentist

Dr. Miller, a general dentist, treated a male patient in his fifties for various dental issues. Although the treatments were successful, the patient was unhappy with Dr. Miller's office staff and the amount for which he was billed. The patient joined an online forum and began posting negative comments about Dr. Miller's billing policies, office staff, and efficacy of care.

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Social Media Might Be Informal, but Your Healthcare Practice's Policies Shouldn't Be

Without doubt, the ease, flexibility, and convenience of social media offer various opportunities to enhance the dissemination of health information and communication between patients and healthcare providers.

However, like any type of technology, social media can create safety and risk issues if it is not used responsibly. Additionally, because social media changes rapidly, standards and best practices are not always well-defined.

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CASE STUDY: Patient Authorizes Posting of Photo on Facebook, but Has Second Thoughts

Dr. Andrews, a board-certified plastic surgeon, performed a successful breast augmentation on a patient in her mid-thirties. Approximately 5 months after the procedure, the patient sent an email message to Dr. Andrews' practice expressing that she was extremely pleased with the results of the augmentation. In the message, she attached a picture of herself that highlighted the results of the surgery.

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Social Media and Patient Confidentiality: A Balancing Act

One of the most significant concerns related to the use of social media in healthcare is the requirement to maintain strict confidentiality of patients' protected health information (PHI). This obligation is addressed in federal law and governed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

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