Over the years, the healthcare industry has always relied heavily on the use of paper records. However, various governments have vigorously encouraged the use and expansion health information technology (HIT) and transition from paper to electronic health records (EHRs)(Glaser, 2010). The United States government has a very high population of people going to prisons, amounting to 5%of the total prison population globally(DesRoches, Audet, Painter& Donelan, 2013). The imprisoned individuals are usually from low-income areas hence are victims of substance abuse, addictions, mental illnesses and other chronic conditions. Historically, due to the segregation of the prisoners from their local communities, people have failed to see jails as sources of healthcare provision. Nonetheless, the county and local jails have taken it upon themselves to implement health information technology systems that are cost saving, efficient, coordinating care and improving on public safety and public care(Goldberg et al., 2012). The use of EHRs is mainly aimed at replacing the outdated paper recording systems and increasing connectivity with healthcare providers. Introduction of HIT and EHRs in prisons will improve both the medical side and information safety side of the jail systems.
Ensuring patient information security and privacy in jails has been an issue in the past years. Lack of information necessitates the introduction and implementation of HIT and EHRs systems in prisons. Fine imposition on offenders, legislation, media attention and consumer advocacy have not effectively put the issue to an end. However, positive strides can be made through the security measures associated with the role played by the HIT and EHRs (Crosson et al., 2011). Health information technology can help these jails in establishing security systems that will make it difficult for hackers and unauthorized people from accessing patient information. Establishment of the HIT systems will be designed in such a way that thieves and hackers will find it hard to get the information, but the legalized users will be able to get the information with ease and later lock the systems (Bredfeldt, Awad, Joseph &Snyder, 2013). Such security steps will significantly reduce privacy breechings, cyber-attacks, and other possible legal implications. Most importantly, the transition to electronic health recording will put to an end stealing of patient documents thus security and privacy of patient information will prevail.
Paper records limit the communication between providers that work in other locations or settings and are more commonly said to be insufficient. If a jail’s records are all stored in one place, an inmate can easily access someone else’s file HIT can help improve this problem with its technological features. The need for a patient’s medical information can be efficiently sent with just a click of a button, instead of going through numerous files and then mailing or faxing it to another location. If implemented correctly, EHRs can help providers treat people accordingly as they return home from prison or jail. Even people such as transition planners can utilize the EHR system with other compatible electronic systems to help administer social benefits to prisoners who might need the necessary support when switching over back to the community after incarceration. EHR’s in prisons will be a more cost effective resource for treatment. The need to control healthcare cost has always been an ongoing debate within society. Several factors affect the cost of healthcare in jails, the rising increase in the incarceration population, the occurrence of mental illness, and the steady expand in pharmaceutical drug cost.
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