Connected, digital and vulnerable – the state of our healthcare information

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Connected, digital and vulnerable – the state of our healthcare information

By Tim Peeler

We are living in a connected and digital world, where the ability to access information and communicate is always at our fingertips. From mobile banking to social media and even ride sharing, we are generating more and more personal data every day.

Although many may not consider where that data goes or who has access to it, one exception is healthcare. Thus, attending to a patient’s personal information has become just as important as attending to their health and well-being.
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Healthcare has become more data driven than ever before, and that’s a good thing. This new reality is being fueled in part by the fact that patients want to be more digitally connected with the hospitals and doctors that care for them.

An Ernst & Young survey released at HIMSS 2018 found that 54 percent of patients are comfortable communicating with their healthcare providers digitally. It also found that they are open to using other technologies, including: at-home diagnostic testing (36 percent); smartphones or connected devices to share information (33 percent); and video consultations (21 percent).

Without a doubt, technologies such as data analytics are revolutionizing healthcare by improving efficiencies in workflows and delivering deeper insights that drive patient care. The ability to paint a bigger picture is wonderful, but it relies heavily on the amount of patient information that is fed into the system and where that data comes from.

The key to all of this is interconnectivity. While technology is definitely improving the patient experience and outcome, it also presents real challenges for healthcare organizations. For many, investing in data protection and the ongoing attention required to stay up-to-date with the latest security information is daunting.

Consider the fact that patient data is more lucrative for hackers than your credit card number, according to Larry Ponemon, founder of the Ponemon Institute. From electronic medical records, to mobile health apps and even medical imaging, patient data is generated from an increasing number of sources. While the speed and ease at which patient information is accessed and shared among healthcare providers can be a real advantage, it does make us vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The reality is that cyber threats are rapidly increasing in number and complexity which, in turn, cost healthcare organizations more than $12 million in 2017, according to a 2017 study by Ponemon Institute and Accenture.
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