Advances in healthcare technology have led to an increase in the amount of information is stored online. Although this offers several benefits when it comes to patient care, it also makes the data incredibly susceptible to attack from hackers whose goals are to steal and sell personal information that is found in EHRs. TrapX Security, a renowned security organization, has stated that cyber-attacks waged against healthcare institutions significantly increased by up to 63 percent in 2016 as compared to 2015. The security organization expects this upward trend to continue.
Lack of innovative technology, as well as the absence of best practices, also makes it extremely difficult for hospitals or healthcare institutions to detect and rectify ransomware attacks quickly and efficiently. To combat this growing threat, technologies and strategies designed to guarantee privacy, as well as the security of health data, continues to be the ever-increasing focus of HIM professionals in the field.
Healthcare organizations need to be able to foster trust with their patients. Most patients will be reluctant when they learn their health information will be stored online, especially if they feel that their healthcare provider is not capable of keeping their personal data secure and safe from cyber threats.
HIM professionals are the stewards of health care information. They help establish the guidelines and principles to ensure safe, consistent, and uniform collection and exchange of useful patient health data for purposes such as quality management. HIM experts should continually develop and implement standards for data mapping data content, and documentation across the healthcare sector. The roles of these professionals are continually changing and expanding. Traditional HIM experts were simply record custodians. But now, they are expected not only to ensure the safekeeping of health care information within an organization but also to facilitate global focus on the security and privacy of healthcare information while providing access to information.
HIPAA (the United States Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) acts as the first-line federal regulation that shapes and aims to preserve health information security and privacy. It mandates the guidelines and policies to safeguard integrity and confidentiality while ensuring accessibility of health information to both consumers and providers. However, as health information technology expands from EHRs to Personal Health Records (PHRs), the gaps in privacy and confidentiality started to appear. Many consumers are now concerned about privacy and security, with these two as the primary reason why they do not intend to use a PHR platform for their personal HIM.
Additionally, telemedicine technologies and home health monitoring further expand the landscape for security and privacy concerns. These new aging services technologies help the aging and the disabled population, and they also increase the demand for HIM professionals to bridge the widening gap of privacy and security protection of health care information.
The following three HIM strategies can overcome the challenges with the privacy and security of healthcare information: