Computer Security Issues in the Health Industry – Health System Example

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"Computer Security Issues in the Health Industry" is a stunning example of a paper on the health system.   This mini-paper discusses security issues being faced by patients when they submit their personal information, which is prone to crimes like identity theft, to the physicians or healthcare institutions. E-Health provides services that let the doctors have access to their patients’ data by maintaining their records and information about their diseases in databases and other e-Health tools, rather than using paper documents. Here we discuss security problems with data protection in the healthcare sector and security techniques being used. O’ Leary (2010) asserts that criminals conduct “ medicare fraud” to get access to medicare privileges he is not entitled to.

A recent survey by ComputerWorld (2010) shows that “ 5.8% of US adults have been medical identity theft victims” and 33% of them told that they had been victimized by a member of the family who used their medical IDs to get entitled to medical services. Herald (2010) reports that last year, the Coral Gables couple was caught “ accused of brokering the stolen computer records of patients' names, addresses, telephone numbers and medical diagnoses to several attorneys in exchange for kickback payments” .

Similarly, a woman named Mackowiak was fined and sentenced for taking patients’ personal data and Social Security Numbers from a clinic and handed the information over to someone in Washington (Gazette News Service, 2009). There are hundreds of such cases that involve criminals stealing patients’ records from healthcare institutions, sometimes succeeding and at times being caught. E-Health security techniques include the systems and software based on ICT for the use of physicians, medical authorities, and patients to share and exchange medical information (Gibbons, 2008).

The main technique used is the use of Computerized patient records or electronic medical records (EHRs) which are longitudinal electronic records of a patient’ s data including patient’ s case history, details about his disease, his medications, demographic data, and laboratory reports, any vaccinations and immunizations. These enable access to the records even from distant areas by means of online networking. Moreover, E-TEN, a European Community Program, aims at the consistency, security, and reliable access to the citizens’ clinical statistics both by the healthcare providers and the citizens.

E-TEN’ s Netlink, Netc@rds, and Transcard projects will give rights to the mobile EU citizens’ to have access to their medical information and EHRs through a secure network. These techniques (EHRs and E-TEN projects) have been very successful in securing patients’ data. Technical limitations include training of the medical staff to use EHRs properly. From a cultural perspective, it is important to encourage people living in remote areas to confide in e-Health security solutions because remote residents do not usually opt for electronic involvement out of illiteracy.

Legal issues involve the implementation of laws like the Canadian legislation E-Health (Personal Health Information Access and Protection of Privacy) Act which talks about the security issue of the EHRs. The law clearly states that anybody, who is accessing the data stored in these electronic records either with the idea of adding information or retrieving information for any purpose, must have proper authorization. Similarly, the  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was put forth by U. S. Congress on August 21, 1996. Title II of HIPAA deals with the privacy issue of the consumer’ s data and presents the  Privacy Rule which ensures fines and punishments for fraud and violation of the rule.                       In short, the healthcare sector is prone to security issues like identity theft which endorses the use of electronic tools and software so that patients feel confident in interacting with their physicians and giving their personal information.

Thanks to e-Health solutions, we now have fast and reliable data protection techniques that have greatly benefitted the healthcare industry.

References

ComputerWorld. (2010, March 09). Survey: 5.8% Of US Adults Have Been Medical Identity Theft Victims. Retrieved April 23, 2010 from http://ivebeenmugged.typepad.com/my_weblog/medical_fraud/

Gazette News Service. (2009, August 3). Columbia Falls Woman Sentenced for ID Theft. Retrieved April 23, 2010 from http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/article_e6306582-805f-11de-a05c-001cc4c03286.html

Gibbons, M. (Ed.). (2008). E-Health Solutions For Healthcare Disparities. New York: Springer.

Herald, M. (2010, March 08). Florida Couple Return To Identity Theft. Retrieved April 23, 2010 from http://ivebeenmugged.typepad.com/my_weblog/medical_fraud/

O’Leary, D. (2010, April 13). Medicare Fraud: What It Is And How To Avoid Becoming a Victim. Retrieved April 23, 2010 from http://ivebeenmugged.typepad.com/my_weblog/medical_fraud/

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