Someone doing a poor job but blaming it on the tool they used is so common that we have a phrase for it, “A bad workman blames his tools.” However, what if the tool actually is the problem? And what if the workman isn’t bad, they just don’t know what tool they should be using? When it comes to medical recordkeeping, there is a sharp divide between patients vs employees and the two should not be mixed. Additionally, both types of systems have their own myriad of requirements depending on the use case. In this article we will take a closer look at these systems and requirements to answer the following questions:
- What’s the difference between an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and systems used for employee and occupational health recordkeeping?
- What risks are associated with combining personal health information and occupational health information in one system?
- How can an employee and occupational health recordkeeping system increase productivity, streamline processes, and simplify practitioner workflows?
- How does a purpose-built recordkeeping system enhance visibility and worker safety?
Choosing the Right Tool for the Job
An Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is used vastly throughout the world to manage and store independent and private (e.g. not related to workplace incidents or medical requirements) patient medical data. Odds are your primary care physician utilizes one before, during, and after your appointment to take notes, document vitals, and review past medical history. You may even have a patient portal connected to the EMR where you can log in and read the visit notes, obtain vaccination records, make payments, and schedule appointments. EMRs are extremely useful for practitioners because it allows them to store individual patients’ medical data in a secure, digitized platform that is accessible by other practitioners and providers to better align patient care and streamline processes. However, EMRs are not designed to track worker-focused information and regulatory compliance, nor can they identify worker risk and enhance worker protection like an employee and occupational health information system can.
It’s a valid assumption that an EMR can be used interchangeably for documenting personal health information and employee and occupational health information. However, doing so could lead to a breach of confidentiality, violations of federal disability laws, and inadequate worker health care.
Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons why patient care data and employee and occupational health data should be kept separate:
OSHA vs HIPAA
Employee and occupational health data is governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) but medical records are governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Two different governing bodies come with two different rules and regulations. One example is that OSHA requires all occupational health records to be kept separate and independent from non-occupational health records. This ensures that medical history or other personal treatments (such as mental health activities) are kept separate from employers who could potentially use that information against the employee. For reasons such as this, it is a violation to intermingle personal health information with occupational health information.
Confidentiality & Compliance
Keeping occupational health records and general patient medical records separate may seem like an easy task for most companies, but what about healthcare organizations? What if the employee is also a patient within the organization? Keeping both records separate and confidential becomes more challenging and the possibility for crossover or leaked confidential information is much greater and could result in federal or state violations.
Worker Well-Being & Risk Management
A purpose-built employee and occupational health recordkeeping system can provide more detailed information about the worker, minimize negative outcomes, identify at-risk workers, provide real-time visibility, and more. An EMR does a great job of collecting patient health information, but it cannot proactively support safer and healthier workplaces while also managing regulatory documentation, service protocols/contracts, and unique Occupational Health AR and Billing needs.
Keeping Personal Medical Records Apart from Employee Health Records
Utilizing an Employee and Occupational Health Recordkeeping system, like Cority’s ReadySet Solution, to document and securely store employee and occupational health records ensures confidentiality and regulatory compliance, but also peace of mind. Moreover, a solution that automatically keeps the right records in the right system at the right time saves countless administrative hours of burden for occupational health nurses and administrative staff. And, with less admin burden comes not only the benefit of more time to focus on reducing risk but a more streamlined workflow and reduced “headache”. In conclusion, with the correct tool, occupational health practitioners can stay focused on what matters most, the health of their patients and coworkers. If you want to learn more, download our whitepaper, “Employee and Occupational Health Recordkeeping Systems: How They’re Different From an EMR and Why You Need One” to continue reading.