Term: Electronic Signatures

Definition:

An electronic signature is described as "an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record." This definition has resulted in many more specific interpretations within the United States government. Agencies such as the GPEA, UETA, Federal Reserve, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the FDA all have differing requirements for accepting electronic signatures.

Relevance to Health Informatics:

Currently for Health Informatics digital signatures for EMR's use a user name and log in to authenticate for a digital signature. Although by law now this is no longer allowed so Doctors have to finalize and lock the report. Upon doing all of that the doctor then must print out an html page that then sign the form and then file it away. So even now it shows that electronic signatures are not fully legal but they are used and practiced in the health informatics field.

Applications

Electronic Signatures in the US, and EU are currently legally admissible and are currently in use in some healthcare places. An example of a place that is using electronic signatures is Patients Know best, and they use the software EchoSign. Bringing this into the health field will be a great asset in moving away from the archaic paper forms, it will also allow all doctors to archive the signatures and make it much easier to find records. From a legal standpoint it will also make getting the records much quicker then having to dig through old records to find a specific one.

external image FDA_Intro.jpg


Sources:
http://www.esignrecords.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_signatures
http://wiki.patientsknowbest.com/Electronic_signatures