Although the adoption of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems has grown in recent years, both patients and physicians still have concerns about the security and privacy of EHRs (Sage Healthcare, 2011). In fact, 81% of patients interviewed and 62% of doctors are concerned about EHRs (Sage Healthcare, 2011). Physician skepticism may explain why only 10% of office-based physician practices have implemented a fully functioning EHR system (Sage Healthcare, 2011). Despite such skepticism, President Obama based on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 expects hospitals and physicians to do their part in facilitating a nationwide interoperable Electronic Health Information Network by 2015 (Rashbaum, 2011). Without proper security and regulation, such a huge Electronic Health Network (EHN) is fraught with potential medical risks and legal liability. The present paper reviews potential liability risks EHR systems pose and how healthcare providers can safeguard patient data electronically while improving quality of care. .
The Obama administration is looking towards expanded use of EHR systems to reduce healthcare costs while increasing efficiency and quality of patient care (Pipersburgh, 2011). Indeed, the immediate access to patient data, diagnostic images and results, laboratory reports, as well as radiology exams at the "touch of a button " has increased physician satisfaction (Hoffman & Podgurski, 2009). However since physicians have misgivings regarding EHRs and hospitals continue to underinvest in IM/IT efforts (Glandon, Smaltz & Slovensky, 2012), deploying more systems will need greater education and system safety precautions. Given necessary safeguards, EHRs can meet the U.S. goals of decreasing medical costs, reducing medical errors, while making the whole hospital visit a better one. EHRs have features that paper based medical records could not offer hospital staff.