In addition to inviting efficiency to the dinner table, digitized health care records also leaves the door open for unwanted guests like data breaches. Since 2009, more than 1,000 health data breaches at health care providers have been reported to the U.S. government.
Earlier this month, Politico released a piece positing that it's only 'a matter of time' until there is a major hack of health records. According to the story, a single identifying profile of a person can sell for as much as $500 on the black market, making it a big ticket item for thieves. Losing health care records could be detrimental to a person's identity and also puts the hospital under violation of federal law HIPAA, as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services to protects the privacy of an individual's health information.
As stated in a report conducted by the Identity Theft Resource Center, 395 security breaches have resulted in the exposure of 11 million files from 2014 until mid July. The first victim named in the report is St. Vincent's Breast Center. A clerical error led the organization to mail out more than 63,000 letters with personal patient information to the wrong recipients.
Learn from Others' Mistakes
Maybe the health care industry can take a page out of retail's book. In the past year alone, highly reputable and successful retailers like Target, Inc. and Neiman Marcus have had their data breached. Target, one of the nation's largest retailers, had credit and debit card information belonging to 40 million customers exposed. Nearly double that amount of customers had their personal contact information compromised. Credit and debit card information is direct route to someone's wallet. Health care records are a direct route to someone's body and wellbeing.
Health Records: Lock Them Up and Throw Away the Key
Call it old fashioned but the digital route just may not win this round over print. When protecting sensitive data belonging to an individual, especially at the risk of breaking the law, and protecting an institute's reputation, it may be in the best interests of an organization to stick to a method that's worked since the beginning of health care. Unlike a traditional thief who may rob a store or bank that is close in proximity, malware thieves can attack from afar. This advantage also allows fraudsters to not only sneak by but entirely negate the expensive security measures implanted by organizations like cameras and other applications of technology. Physical records allow the keeper to lock them up in a place not exposed to the virtual dangers of the Internet.
Print distributors can offer document security, something that shouldn't be taken lightly when it comes to health care. They can provide options for all of the vulnerable documents that circulate within a hospital on a day-to-day basis like prescription pads, hospital records and more. It would be wise to reconsider jumping on the electronic health care record bandwagon and explore options that support security and protection.