The Importance of Cybersecurity in the Medical Industry

Clinical history and medical records are documents that contain sensitive and private data of patients concerning their state of health. Every developed country has regulations and laws on how such information should be stored, disseminated, and managed. In the United States, for example, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) enacted regulations with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 to protect such records. As EMR records become more universal, EMR & EHR Consulting experts True North ITG Inc have begun to standardize the documentation so that data on these reports are easily understood regardless of the country of origin. The goal is to improve transparency so that patients can receive immediate treatment by doctors that understand a patient’s condition, considering their medical history.

Background and Importance of Access

In underdeveloped countries, a patient’s personal and family history, their diagnostics, and current treatment and procedures are generally available only to the current institution providing care. This type of limitation generates problems in offering integral and immediate assistance in cases of emergencies or when an individual arrives unconscious to an urgent care facility. Therefore, critical information like allergic reactions to medicines or substances, past surgeries, and information on pathological treatments that can help guide a doctor’s decisions on how to manage a situation are unavailable at the time of an emergency. Furthermore, this type of information can make a difference in saving someone’s life. A lack of access can have devastating effects. Such consequences can include lawsuits and liability for procedural errors when treating someone.

Information Sharing and the Digital Era

While the access to information and the ease in sharing data among and within dispersed medical institutions and doctors facilitates the management of a patient’s medical history, such access comes with a price. With the level of importance of medical information and the sensitive nature of such data, medical records become the target of hackers. Therefore, hospitals, private practices, doctors, and other facilities that store records are susceptible to cybercriminals looking to use the information in those records for illicit purposes. The vulnerability and level of sensitivity that patients require in the handling of private information force anyone with access to the data to use high-end tools, such as vulnerability and compliance management tools provided with the implementation of Docker security and containment systems as these guarantee an elevated level of protection against such attacks.  

To understand why medical records require an increased level of security to protect patient privacy and confidentiality, one can simply imagine cases of extortion or blackmail on celebrities or individuals in a position of power. Hackers gaining access to someone’s clinical history can use the information as leverage, forcing victims to pay for keeping the information private. Furthermore, the access to the information can help hackers steal the identity of patients which cybercriminals can then use to commit other crimes, including insurance fraud. Individuals suspecting that their information was compromised need to act quickly and contact local authorities. Furthermore, victims need to review their medical records and ask all institutions to correct any mistakes.

How to Detect Theft?

Financial institutions, for example, verify the identity of their clients as a mechanism to prevent fraud. Just as experts recommend that everyone checks their credit report on a consistent basis, people should review their medical records regularly. These reports will include clues that can help patients determine if their identity was stolen. Among the data that individuals should check regularly are the dates of medical visits, the name of the service provider, the type of service received, the diagnosis for each visit, the name of medications prescribed by doctors, family history, and the financial value of the services rendered. This information must coincide with the actual treatment and services that a patient received. Any discrepancies should raise concerns, and patients need to take immediate corrective action. Everyone, not just celebrities and those in public spheres, are susceptible to having their information compromised. Be vigilant and protect data by regularly monitoring all sensitive information.

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