Posted By Dayna Riddle On August 7, 2023

School Health: Why Should My EHR Be FERPA Certified? 

Maternal Child Health

In today’s digital era, where educational records are readily accessible through electronic platforms, protecting student privacy and maintaining the confidentiality of their academic records is critical. That’s where the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) comes in.

The main purpose of FERPA is to protect the privacy of student education records by imposing strict regulations on educational institutions and school health programs. Under FERPA, students and their parents have the right to review and request their records and control the disclosure of their information. FERPA is similar to HIPAA, but FERPA is specifically designed for institutions that received federal funding from the US Department of Education. 

When looking for a new EHR solution for school health, there are certain things to keep in mind. A FERPA certification is one of the critical items to look for if you want a secure and safe EHR for your school. 

EHR FERPA certified

If your school health program is supported by a FERPA-certified EHR, you ensure that your data management practices comply with federal regulations. These regulations assure that your system meets necessary security and privacy standards, which can reduce the risk of legal consequences due to non-compliance. A legal issue can cost your organization time and money. 

2. Protection of Student Information

Some EHR solutions are not up-to-date on the latest security measures, especially ones that safeguard student records from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. Some features to look for include secure data transmission, encryption, role-based access controls, and other best practices to protect sensitive information. When shopping for a school health EHR, look for one that is committed to updating security certifications and being in compliance so that you can keep student data safe. 

3. Enhancing Trust and Reputation

Adopting a FERPA-certified EHR system demonstrates an educational institution’s commitment to protecting student privacy. When parents and students are confident that their personal information is secure within the system, it fosters trust and enhances the institution’s reputation for responsible data management. It also reassures stakeholders that the institution values student privacy. There are health organizations across the news that have fallen victim to ransomware or other data breaches. A certified EHR can provide another layer of protection against malware. 

4. Facilitating Data Sharing

Under FERPA, schools can share patient information with healthcare providers (with patient/parental consent). The FERPA certification ensures that the EHR system is designed to facilitate secure data sharing between educational institutions and authorized parties, such as through the use of patient referral orders.  Secure data sharing allows seamless and controlled sharing of student records, enabling efficient communication and coordination of care, particularly in the case of students with complex medical needs or those transitioning between different educational settings. Data sharing through patient referrals in a FERPA-certified EHR allows you to support whole-person care. 

EHR FERPA certified

An EHR that Supports School Health

When searching for a FERPA-certified EHR, also look for an EHR that supports public health, as many experts say school health is a section of public health. One aspect of public health support in an EHR solution is the ability to address the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). School health nurses don’t only treat skimmed knees and stomach aches– they also must take into account the conditions in which students are coming from, like home life, economic stability, and healthcare access outside of school. An EHR that supports these efforts will offer ways to document, address, and follow up with them, through features like Health Information Exchange (HIE) connections and appointment reminders. These types of features allow your students to receive additional care outside your school health program when needed, including services provided by a public health department, behavioral health organization, or housing/ food services.

A FERPA certification is essential for any EHR system you choose for your school health program. It not only ensures legal compliance but also prioritizes the protection of student privacy and promotes trust and responsible data management practices. This investment allows your organization to uphold the highest privacy standards and earn the confidence of students, parents, and other stakeholders. Together with your EHR solution, prioritize student privacy and embrace technological advancements for the betterment of school health. 

About Patagonia Health, Inc.

Patagonia Health’s integrated EHR, Practice Management, and Billing solutions are designed to improve departmental workflows using apps and cloud-based technology. Our company was founded with a focus on providing technology solutions with highly referenceable customer service. We collaborate with public and behavioral health organizations to develop advanced features,  empowering them to improve the well-being of their communities. Our federally-certified software enables our customers to achieve their desired health outcomes. We serve those who serve others. If you’d like more information about our solutions, contact us today.

About Dayna Riddle

Dayna is a marketing associate at Patagonia Health, an Electronic Health Records (EHR) software company serving Public and Behavioral Health departments across the United States. She creates content, manages social media, and assists in marketing strategies, while supporting her efforts with a passion for health.