Who Is Protecting Our Electronic Medical Records?

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

More than 5 years ago, I wrote my first blog on the future of healthcare following the institution of electronic health records as a mandatory requirement for every medical practice in order to comply with the new regulations for coding of services in order to receive payments from both government entities and insurance providers. The immediate loss for patients was the previous personal interaction with their healthcare professionals who were now focused on a computer for proper input of patient info rather than the patients themselves. But, the fondest hope for all of us was that it would improve our overall experience especially when dealing with long-term issues such as cancer. However, it appears that not only are there no positive outcomes but also a whole host of negative results that have evolved over the years. And the one that I would like to focus on this time has to do with the hacking of our medical records.

You just might decide that it is time for every single person to not only become an advocate for their medical treatments but also for finding the best ways to secure their personal and medical information as well before it is too late.Barbara Jacoby

In a recent article that I read titled “How many patient records were breached in Q2?”, we learned the following:

“From April through June of this year, 142 data breaches were disclosed to HHS or the media, according to the latest Protenus Breach Barometer, a report made in collaboration with DataBreaches.net. Details were disclosed in 116 of those incidents, which affected 3,143,642 patient records. The 3.14 million records breached in Q2 is a hefty increase from Q1, when Protenus reported 1,129,744 records were impacted.”

A further breakdown of the breaches provided the following:

“The incidents outlined in the Barometer involved a variety of parties. Ninety-nine of the 142 disclosed breaches in Q2 involved a healthcare provider. Another 15 were disclosed by a health plan, 18 involved a business organization or third-party vendor and 10 were disclosed by a business or other type of organization.”

I can’t begin to imagine all of the ramifications that could result if our medical records are stolen and how the information might be used. It brings to mind the recent reports of how some Facebook records were compromised and used because of too much info being shared from user accounts. And think about all of the news reports that we have read about hackers holding hospital records for ransom so that the info that they were able to get from those “secured” sites is threatened. And we can be sure that there are more than a few other breaches that were never reported or shared where the hackers were paid off to keep silent or where the info was shared and we just don’t know about it – yet.

Therefore, you might want to consider what may happen if you try out the new at-home DNA tests and what might happen if this information is sold or stolen by a third party and how it can ultimately be used against you. If information is being stolen from doctor’s offices, your hospitals and your insurance companies that are supposed to have secured sites, what chance do you think that you may have when you have info that you have posted on the Internet through social media. You just might decide that it is time for every single person to not only become an advocate for their medical treatments but also for finding the best ways to secure their personal and medical information as well before it is too late.

Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.