Is Your Personal Medical Information at Risk? Why More Docs are Ditching Paper Records

Information management options

In the past two decades, Americans have largely converted to a digitized, high tech lifestyle. Stuck in traffic? Just check your GPS. Stuck in line at the grocery store? Just check your email. Our children may not have ever had occasion to read a paper map or write a letter by hand, and that’s okay: each generation changes and evolves. Concerns about children’s exposure to television back in the 1970s have given way to studies touting the benefit of educational programming.

We older Americans may feel nostalgic for mix tapes and pen pal letters, but we enjoy always knowing where the nearest gas station is located. Younger Americans, often referred to as “Millennials,” would shake their heads in wonder if we started to tell them just how lost we all used to get before GPS. So much used to depend upon the map-reading skills of the person in the passenger seat of the car. Along with the perks of the digital age, however, come dangers: security experts warn that your chances of identity theft have never been higher. Business owners are increasingly shifting to information solutions that involve digitizing patient records for security’s sake.

The cost of identity theft totals more than $50 billion annually: more than 10 million Americans have credit card numbers and other personal information stolen every year. Surprisingly, many American business owners still keep paper records, an anachronistic practice that puts more than 100 million citizens’ financial and medical information at risk every year. The importance of document shredding cannot be underestimated: one in every four corporate identity theft cases involved misappropriation of paper records. Most Americans do not realize that their information is readily available to so many people, and may hesitate to ask doctors, lawyers, or their employer if they have found reliable shredding services.

Why are we still using paper records at all? Studies show that the average office worker uses more than 10,000 pieces of paper every year. Shouldn’t we be making the switch to hosted document management services that are under cyber-lock and key? The vast majority of identity theft cases involve paper records. Why are we not putting our doctors and health care professionals under more pressure to switch to more secure information management options? The American consumer has every right to be worried: a single disgruntled employee could leave an office with thousands of patients’ financial information.

Information solutions can be simple: take each patient’s chart and scan it into a central database. Employ a trustworthy shredding service for the old documents, and start to inform patients that their personal information is not as readily accessible anymore. It seems that having secure information solutions would be a selling point for medical and legal professionals.

One lawyer recently admitted that he stores decades worth of clients’ wills in a safe at his home; wouldn’t his clients feel safer if he digitized the documents and stored them offsite? Clients have every right to request and to demand that their information be kept safe from the possibility of incursion. Businesses that implement modern solutions may find themselves outstripping their competition.

Businesses that do not have onsite tech support staff must understand that they can access on call information solutions experts if they outsource the position. Instead of having to pay a full-time staff member benefits to remain “on call,” a business can outsource its tech support instead. They will receive the same level of urgency and care from an offsite staff member and will not have to pay for any downtime.

Why spend money if you don’t have to? New hosted document management services can provide information solutions for businesses of every size. Clients tend to vote with their feet: if they do not feel that their medical or legal records are being secured properly, they may not hesitate to find another doctor or lawyer who will.

About: Technology

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