Have you ever taken a moment to think about how you might feel if your most sensitive information was available to thousands of people, all at the click of a button? Medical patients in the UK have become increasingly aware of this possibility in recent years, due in part to data breaches. These failures in data security have become more and more frequent, putting millions of people at risk.
Your EHR, or electronic health record, is a digital file comprised of all of your medical information. This digital file is available in some different formats, allowing it to be shared across medical platforms with ease. According to Checkpoint, EHRs are real-time, patient-centered records that make information available instantly and securely to authorized users. This is an invaluable source of info for practitioners, allowing medical processes to be more accurate and efficient. A problem arises, however, when this data becomes accessible to more than just “authorized users.”
According to the Centre for Public Impact, ‘At the turn of the century, the health records of UK citizens were often held locally, with the result that there was no coordinated system. “Although electronic health records are widely viewed as central to modernising the organisation and delivery of sustainable, high quality healthcare, the uptake of such records in hospital has tended to be slow.’ And slow uptake isn’t the worst problem associated with system migration. Information security has come a long way since the older systems were introduced, which is perhaps why the government has begun a £12.7 billion national programme for reforming these systems. It’s unclear, however, that centralising the information will make it less susceptible to compromise.
Importance of Security
If the prospect of having your medical records exposed to inappropriate parties fails to scare you, take a moment to reflect on what might be at risk. Medical records contain some personal details, including some of the most integral to your daily life: your name, date of birth, and National Insurance number. With this amount of data, the capacity for remote damage to your livelihood becomes exceptionally high. Identity theft and other thieving tactics become realistic threats, which is enough to make most people a little nervous. The importance of information security cannot be overstated!
One significant instance of a large-scale data breach came earlier this year when nearly 26 million patients found their medical information potentially at risk due to a security failure with SystemOne, one of the nation’s top clinical software. This oversight in security meant that thousands of untrained personnel would have access to personal information at the stroke of a finger, all without requiring the proper approval.
Case in Point
If you’re still unsure, be warned- yes, your medical records are vulnerable to a potential data breach, and the risk is far higher than most expect. With the sweeping increase and application of technology-based record-keeping systems within the healthcare industry, it is crucial to identify potential risks associated with storing information online.
These systems, which help increase productivity and efficiency within clinical environments across the globe, do not come without risks. It is up to us as medical patients to remain aware of these risks, and to do everything within our power to implore the appropriate parties to place a greater focus on ensuring these systems remain secure. And it’s up to firms in this and every industry to partner with information security professionals to guard your client or patient data from disaster.