Our Electronic Medical Health Records Are Under Assault

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

Just 6 months ago, I wrote about my latest concerns regarding our electronic medical records as it pertains to our telehealth records. It has always been my greatest hope that computers would make things better and easier for both healthcare professionals as well as patients to have our information in one place for easy access and update when available. But, if you are like me, you are finding that things have not only not improved but also they seem to have gotten progressively worse. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I have found a new article regarding that healthcare breaches have gone up 55% in 2020 over 2019.

“Preventing cyber attacks is important, but so is quickly identifying and mitigating the effects of data breaches when they occur.”Barbara Jacoby

The following quoted from the article immediately caught my attention:

“The report shows that hacking and IT incidents led to 67.3% of all healthcare breaches in 2020. This is more than three times that of the next highest category, unauthorized disclosure, which led to 21.5% of breaches. Loss or theft of devices accounted for only 8.7% of breaches, a far cry from 2014 when these were the leading causes of security breaches in healthcare.”

Further from the article, the following is quoted here:

“In 2020, hacking and IT incidents exposed healthcare information from 24.1 million breached records — which represents 91.2% of all breached records.

“These results demonstrate the heightened impact of cybersecurity breaches, the shifting strategies of malicious actors, as well as how healthcare organizations are grappling with cybersecurity in today’s dynamic, cloud-first world,” the report authors wrote.

The massive threat that hackers pose to the healthcare industry came into sharp focus toward the end of last year when three federal agencies released a joint notice warning of a credible cybercrime threat to U.S. providers.

Preventing cyber attacks is important, but so is quickly identifying and mitigating the effects of data breaches when they occur.

But the report found that months can lapse before a healthcare organization uncovers and recovers from a breach. To be exact, healthcare organizations take on average 96 days to discover a data breach and 236 days to recover from one.”

I understand that medical records have to be computerized and everything has to be coded in order to receive payments from insurance companies and the Federal government as well as to set up a program where electronic medical records can be shared with other doctors and hospitals. While all of this sounds so good for patient care, a closer look has already revealed many problems, just starting with the doctor’s inability to accurately provide their personal notes on a case, in words that will also get them the payments that they deserve.

But, there is hacking of all kinds of records now. Some hackers do it just to prove that they can do it but many others do it for profit. Can you imagine the impact of such hacking of medical records if hackers were able to gain access to medical information for company executives and prominent people in the news and entertainment? How would you feel if you knew that someone had gained access to your most personal information and they were now able to do with it as they wished? You might be blackmailed or someone may set out to ruin your future with the information that they have garnered. And how do you control with whom your information is shared? What if a group of doctors are working on some research and your records are shared among that group or are shared out to a larger group for profit?

With your information now being so readily accessible, it is really time to stop and think about all of these scenarios and decide whether you are ready and willing to take chances with the most important information that represents your health and your life. This is not shared with you to scare you about anything but rather to decide what you might want to do in order to preserve and protect your very private, personal information that is now shared and accessible to people that you would never have imagined. With this new information, you just might want to consider additional protection on your own devices in case they are ultimately hacked while finding out from your own healthcare providers whether their healthcare networks were one of those that have been breached and/or what they have done to secure your medical information.