Electronic Health Records Only as Strong as Weakest Link

It is becoming commonplace to find that organizations of virtually all sizes are getting hacked and their data compromised. Sony and the CIA are just some of the latest we have heard of.

Let’s be clear, these are some very high-profile sites and if they are hackable, it may be safe to say virtually all sites and are potentially vulnerable. Of course we know security is a journey and not a destination meaning companies need to install the latest patches and updates and monitor their code carefully for potential buffer overrun and related attacks.

One of the most recent areas of digitization is electronic health records and candidate and President Obama has discussed the potential benefits of going digital in the past. Then again, it isn’t like the average consumer who has used LPs, tapes and MP3s doesn’t understand that the digital format is the best for multiple reasons.

So when politicians finally read the Obamacare bill and start implementing it – we can bet there will be a heavy, heavy focus on electronic health records (EHR).

But wait, the EHR of 300,000 Californians have been floating around the Internet according to a story on TMCnet’s HealthTechZone. So even though EHR is relatively new – it has already been proven to be less than secure.

Of course it seems inevitable – we don’t use paper for much these days and to think that everything else but our health records will live in a computer is illogical over the long-run.

But we have to ask ourselves, if most of the country doesn’t trust the government to do much but they will be the ones managing our healthcare information – will it be properly protected. There isn’t much more love for insurance companies to be sure and anyone who thinks they will be any more secure stewards of our confidential information is certainly fooling themselves as well.

The answer? Well, I don’t have one beyond instituting much stiffer global penalties for hackers but I expect IBM and other huge consulting companies to start making serious money in the future focusing on securing crucial records from prying eyes.

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