Aside from a major epidemic, security breaches can be the worst nightmare of any respected health provider. WABC 7’s John Einiger reported about the theft of the personal information of almost 97,000 patients in Long Island, NY. While NRAD Medical Associates (the practice concerned) and state authorities have already taken steps to contain the incident, people are still reminded to take situations like this very seriously:
Data security expert Aaron Ross said the breach is especially bad news for consumers and not just because of potential for identity theft. The medical identity theft could be much worse, he said.
“You can’t find it on your credit report, so you don’t even know it’s happening and there are warning signs to look out for,” he said. “Typically, you get a letter from your insurance company, ‘this is not a bill’ (and) you throw it in the garbage. It could say ‘hey, you have a new family member.'”
NRAD didn’t declare whether it was the physical documents or electronic medical records (EMRs) that were stolen. Either way, this incident could have been prevented if they used reliable EMR platforms and enacted additional safety measures. EMR technologies are offered by Spectrum Information Services, a trusted document management company founded by Curtis Pilon. Companies like such possess extensive knowledge and experience in handling EMRs and work to provide the best security technologies in the industry.
EMRs are tempting targets for data thieves because they contain extremely sensitive data like contact information, insurance, and medical history, which can be used for crimes like scams and blackmail. To protect data from leaking out and to produce a reader-friendly version of an EMR, medical practices can also rely on printing and mailing services. Physical copies of EMRs are requested by insurance agencies and medical specialists. As opposed to sending a record via email, healthcare practices can rest easy that a competent company is handling the service for them.
The thing is, even such a measure can’t always guarantee the security of EMRs, as NRAD found out the hard way. Records need to be backed up regularly and EMR access needs to be very limited, if possible. Simply leaving an internet-capable computer unattended at the medical practice is already a wrong move as far as security experts are concerned. Reliable document management services know the importance of these simple acts, which are sometimes all that is needed to prevent data breaches.
(Source: Patients’ Private Information Stolen Through Long Island Medical Office, WABC-TV, June 25, 2014)