Where are YOUR Medical Records Now?

Digital World
We’ve all seen the TV commercial, “It’s 11 o’clock--Do you know where your kids are?”  My question is, “Do you know where your medical records are?”  The current trend in medical documentation is to have your medical reports transcribed by medical transcriptionists (MTs) or medical record specialists working for services in foreign countries.

Many US medical facilities, including hospitals and clinics, outsource completion of their patient documentation to offshore staff because of lower cost and quick turnaround time.   Does the benefit of decreased cost outweigh increased risk of compromised and/or inaccurate information? 

Services transcribe physician dictation into a legal medical report that becomes permanent in the patient’s medical record.  Personal health information plus the patient’s your name, address, phone number, and other identifying information is readily available to offshore staff completing these reports.  What about HIPAA, you say?  That protects my information from being shared with others.  Unfortunately the offshore services are NOT held to the same standards as the services IN the United States.  They are not required to comply with HIPAA laws.
 
Medical documentation needs to be completed by a trained professional with significant knowledge of medical terminology, disease processes, laboratory tests, medications, surgical instruments and much more.  This is a difficult task for someone who knows English as their second language.  There are many terms that sound the same, but it takes a thorough understanding of the definition of the term to know which term was dictated and is correct.

It is important to know where your medical documents are created and who has access to your information.  Ask questions when you go to your doctor’s office or the emergency room.  Be your own advocate.  Express your concern about your personal health information (PHI) being unprotected.  The more we speak up, educating ourselves and the public, the greater opportunity we have to reverse this trend. 


Sandy Kovacs, CMT, AHDI-F
QA Manager and Recruiter
Opti-Script, Inc.
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