Does Patient Information Really Matter?

Michele Warg
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The importance of handling patient information properly cannot be underestimated in the health care industry. Whether a hospital or another medical entity handles and utilizes patient information well can make all the difference in the quality of a patient's total care.

Protecting Patient Privacy and Upholding Confidentiality

Every hospital is expected to uphold certain confidentiality standards in order to operate ethically and legally. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, requires medical professionals to protect patient information. A patient whose information is not properly protected can breach confidentiality and lead to a loss of privacy as well as a loss of the patient’s confidence and trust of the health care system.

The use of electronic medical records places patient info in a digital format, which makes it easier for hackers to tap into patient information. Breaches in the health care IT system can lead to identity theft and other crimes that can affect large populations of patients. Only people with authorized access to the system for lawful medical purposes should be able to access the system by using encrypted passwords and other security checks. Following the proper security protocols to safeguard patient information and maintain confidentiality standards at all times is critical to limiting dangerous data breaches.

Cohesive Information Systems for Better Care

Educating patients on their health status and conditions and providing effective treatments is easier with timely information access. In the health care industry, there is a dire need to produce cohesive patient information systems to make health care delivery more effective. When health care professionals do not have timely access to all of the patient information they need, this can lead to a misdiagnosis, or worse. If a patient visits a different hospital or clinic, then she may fail to get proper treatment necessary if the alternate facility has little or no access to earlier medical records. Good patient information aligns doctors with the prior knowledge to better treat each patient. In addition, it can save the patient and the hospital from repeating tests and other medical procedures to gain information that is already on file somewhere else. If a patient’s information is not transferred to the proper medical authorities, the patient may have an adverse reaction to medicine or other treatments offered, and these mistakes can be avoided.

Recording Irrelevant Information

Another problem exists when the medical database records unnecessary information. In the information age, many entities extract loads of information from consumers, and hospitals are no different. Health care professionals can spend hours looking through information that is insignificant, and they may even overlook crucial medical factors in the process. Relevant patient information should be retained and the irrelevant or redundant data removed.

Offering a high quality of care is a top priority for hospitals that prioritize patient care. Part of the provision of quality care involves the proper handling of patient information. Patient information matters significantly, and the way it is used continues to affect patients and professionals every day.


Photo courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at



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