computer keyboard with Shield icon and word Secure Access

A study done by researchers at the Stanford University found that between the years of 2010 in

2013, more than 29 million healthcare records were potentially misused and exposed to

criminals. While some of the theft of healthcare records was the result of hacking, the study

found that a good portion of the theft was simply a case of someone stealing a computer or

stealing a laptop that had unencrypted sensitive medical records on it.


The Journal of American Medical Association stated that between 2010 and 2013, there has been

a 100 percent increase in the number of security breaches involving hacking of medical records.

And while hacking was not the primary way that these medical records were attained, the

potential exists for hacking to result in large numbers of compromised records. Proof of this can

be seen by the attacks on Anthem Inc. and Premera Blue Cross that were both hit by hackers at

the outset of 2015. The result was that more than 90 million medical records were exposed to



Steps to Improve the Cyber Safety of Medical Records

As the threat on the safety of medical records increases, so does the efforts that the medical

community is putting forth to protect the private information of its patients. Working with

companies like McAfee, SIEM, and FairWarning, the medical community is implementing

initiatives designed to achieve the following goals:


• Improve Indication and Collaboration

• Quickly Identify Cyber Threats and Contain Them Efficiently

• Identify Gaps in Security before They Can Be Exploited and Remedy Them Immediately

• Create Security Systems that are in Compliance with Government Regulations

• Remove Duplicated Security Efforts with the Goal of Simplifying Auditing and Compliance



The medical community’s primary goal is to maintain their patient’s privacy. In order to do this

they must have a health information management degree or similar education along with being

able to effectively identify internal and external threats and make changes to their IT

infrastructure to minimize these threats. Things such as medical records snooping via viruses,

worms, and Trojan horses can be minimized by the use of appropriate software and network

safety measures.


The Future of Medical Record Safety

While many efforts are currently in play to protect patient’s privacy, it is not realistic to believe

that breaches like those that occurred with Blue Cross will be a thing of the past. In fact, patients

should expect that as medical professionals use more mobile devices that backup to the cloud in

connection with their work, the number of breaches of personal medical data will increase. Of

course, this does not mean that all hope is lost. Government agencies along with private

companies will continue to work to protect medical data with the hopes of one day being able to

guarantee complete privacy for all patients.


AUTHOR BIO: This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for

business, health, and women’s interests. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful

daughters. Dixie got advice for this article from professionals at the University of Cinncinnati, who

offer health information management degrees for prospective students.


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