Health Care Trends With a Social Media Twist
A couple of days ago, the New York Times reported on the challenges faced last Spring by the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative (Waltham, MA) – which works with doctors and hospitals to help digitize their patient records – when an employee’s briefcase and company laptop were stolen from his car. The stolen laptop contained unencrypted records for some 13,687 patients — each record containing some combination of a patient’s name, Social Security number, birth date, contact information and insurance information — an identity theft gold mine.
In this day and age, who leaves valuables in a car, locked or not, especially when said item is a laptop containing sensitive patient data? There are so many things wrong with this scenario, not least of which is the compromising of personal information.
Affected individuals were offered free credit monitoring and the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative now mandates that all data be encrypted, and employees must inform health providers what data they will need to access and how they plan to use it. The non-profit survived the gaff but at a financial cost of nearly $300,000 and an intangible cost far greater!
As someone who’s received countless emails, calls and snail-mail letters from her bank with notices that her data MAY have been compromised by a third-party, I would be less than honest if I said that the digital world doesn’t scare me a little when it comes to my patient data. I’m all for electronic medical records but would hope that my physicians and their affiliated hospital organizations plan carefully and invest wisely in the safety and security of sensitive data.
I am a firm believer that the benefits outweigh the risks so I just try to be a little smarter, a little wiser with my personal information – financial or medical – by becoming my own personal advocate and asking questions if I'm unsure.
Are you worried about the security of your health data?