In this digital age, it seems as though any piece of information can be accessed online by anyone with the right amount of access. Unfortunately, sometimes the wrong people can find a way to that data. Without adequate security measures in place, individuals' private account information for their banks, healthcare providers or credit cards can become available to the highest bidder.
Increasingly, heath records have become alarmingly unsafe data set. According to NPR, many people belong to hospitals, doctors' offices or health centers that use online records, but precious few of those patients expressed concerns over the safety of their data.
Hospitals – and businesses in general – that opt for digital records would be well-served to turn to a data center equipped with biometric access control as a fortress for their clients' valuable information.
Survey shows little concern for health record security
In a new survey from Truven Health Analytics – NPR Health Poll, 74 percent of respondents see doctors who keep digital health records. But only 16 percent indicated privacy concerns for their personal records held by their health insurer. Fourteen percent showed anxiety over their hospitals' data security, 11 percent for their physicians', and 10 percent for their employers'.
Over 68 of those surveyed said they would be willing to anonymously share health information with researchers. On the other hand, only 22 percent would be open to sharing credit card purchase or social media information with their healthcare providers, even if it was for the benefit of their own health.
These numbers showed a surprisingly aloof attitude among patients whose information exists in a digital space. In fact, if anything, most respondents had few anxieties over the safety of their health information, especially those records held by employers.
"Maybe the fact that employers have had this type de-identified information for so many years, employees are finally getting used to it," Dr. Michael Taylor, chief medical officer for Truven Health Analytics, told NPR. "Personally, I think it's good. Most employers with whom I deal want to help their employees be healthier and they need information."
While these individuals' openness to sharing their healthcare information may be helpful, it also comes with a risk. Health data is a valuable sell on the black market and many healthcare providers have lax digital security standards, according to Technology Review. In August, the SEC reported that 4.5 million people's healthcare information was compromised as the result of a hack into Community Health Systems' network – one that includes over 200 hospitals.
The problem lies in the difficulty and expense of staying a step ahead of hackers. Whenever a new anti-virus system becomes available, hackers immediately attempt to find ways around it. Digital security is a full-time job and requires significant resources.
Biometrics can be the answer
In light of the rising incidence of health center data attacks, hospitals and other healthcare providers should rely on data centers protected by biometric security. This technology uses an individuals' physical characteristics to provide security clearance, rather than a network key, password or card reader. That means the security is far more advanced and virtually impossible to breach.
Additionally, these data centers can install a fingerprint reader at any access point, from the front door to the server cabinet. This level of control combined with the sophistication of the technology itself is enough to prevent data from falling into the wrong hands. The best systems are installed in hundreds of data centers and have not yet been beaten.
Hospitals can let professionals with the knowledge and infrastructure take care of their data so that they can take care of their patients.