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Healthcare Not Up To Task Of Securing Electronic Medical Records, Experts Say
Written by Daniel   
Monday, 03 May 2010 17:51

From Dark Reading

Healthcare organizations with established databases are typically behind other industries in how they secure their data stores

As healthcare organizations work to earn the incentives dangled in front of them by the HITECH Act, the adoption of electronic medical records (EMR) has accelerated. But at the same time, healthcare fraud has also risen, and experts say if organizations don't effectively address data and database protection in healthcare's transition from paper to digital record-keeping, the threats to patient confidentiality and organizational security will skyrocket.

Two surveys in recent months punctuate the security pundits' warnings. The first, a survey conducted by SK&A in February, showed that adoption rate of EMRs within U.S. medical offices in the past year rose by more than three percentage points, to 36.1 percent. EMR adoption is more prevalent in hospital- or health system-owned sites: Hospital-owned and health-system-owned sites have adoption rates of 44.1 percent and 50.2 percent, respectively.

This data tracks with another poll by NaviNet, which showed small-healthcare organization use has jumped up by three percentage points in the last year, from 9 percent to 12 percent.

Meanwhile, a third poll released by Javelin Research and Strategy in March illustrates the darker side of EMR's uptick: Fraud based on exposure to health data rose from 3 percent to 7 percent between 2008 and 2009.

While the healthcare industry has for decades been plodding toward the eventuality of transforming paper records to digital, it received a legislative boost in early 2009 with the passing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Carved into this overarching stimulus bill, the HITECH Act was designed specifically to encourage organizations to step up their efforts to transition to EMR with a host of financial incentives -- $19.2 billion in total.

But James Van Dyke, president of Javelin, says analysts at his practice are skeptical of the healthcare industry's ability to advance its EMR adoption rate while protecting the data at hand.


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