Healthcare practitioners are always concerned with how to protect patient data and comply with regulations about privacy and security. Coupled with trying to understand new technology that has become available in the last few years, it may be hard to know where to start. In this article, I will discuss why security is important and give you tips for how to protect patient data.
The value of medical data
Is the hype is real? Is medical data is really that valuable to criminals? According to the HHS “Wall of Shame” 1 where HIPAA violations are reported, almost 30 million records have been exposed between September 2009 and early 2014. A recent article in healthcareinfosecurity.com stated “The federal tally of major health data breaches has hit a new milestone; it now lists more than 1,000 incidents affecting 500 or more individuals.”
From the perspective of today’s cyber criminal, electronic health records are a rich source of information that can be sold on the black market. What motivates cyber criminals is data that they can easily sell. Credit and debit card information is useful for criminals, and most doctors’ offices and insurance companies accept payment by either method. Electronic health records may include other information that has a broader utility than that in a credit card, such as social security numbers, which the bad guys can use to steal a person’s identity.