Employing E-Health: The Impact of Electronic Health Records on the Workplace
25 Pages Posted: 4 Jan 2010 Last revised: 26 Apr 2014
Date Written: January 4, 2010
Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems may soon become a fixture in most medical settings. President Obama’s 2009 stimulus legislation includes $19 billion to promote their implementation. The sophisticated features and efficiencies of EHR systems have the potential to improve health outcomes and enhance patient welfare considerably. However, this emerging technology also poses significant challenges and risks, not the least of which are its workplace impacts. This article provides a first of its kind analysis of the ramifications of EHR systems for workers and employers.
The potential effects of health information computerization on the workplace are numerous. Employers may obtain and process EHRs for purposes of fitness for duty determinations, reasonable accommodations, workers’ compensation, and payment of medical claims. Digitized records could enable employers to obtain unprecedented amounts of information in response to lawful requests and thus intensify workers’ concerns about privacy and discrimination. At the same time, employers may find EHRs to be cumbersome and difficult to interpret and, if they store health information electronically, may worry about security breaches. EHR systems could also affect employers’ insurance costs, impact discovery in litigation, and profoundly affect the work habits of health care providers. This article argues that these concerns can best be addressed by specific changes to the ADA, the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, and parallel state laws as well as by technological advances and appropriate federal oversight. As the country transitions to computerization in the medical field, proactive steps must be taken to protect stakeholders in all settings, including the American workplace.
Keywords: Electronic Health Record (EHR), Employment Discrimination, Privacy, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GENIA), Electronic Medical Records, Regulatory Oversight, Health Information Technology
JEL Classification: K23, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation