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Old March 24th, 2010, 01:41 PM   #1
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Default WSJ: Your Medical Records Aren't Secure

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...ctions_opinion


Your Medical Records Aren't Secure

The president says electronic systems will reduce costs and improve quality, but they could undermine good care if people are afraid to confide in their doctors.
By DEBORAH C. PEEL

I learned about the lack of health privacy when I hung out my shingle as a psychiatrist. Patients asked if I could keep their records private if they paid for care themselves. They had lost jobs or reputations because what they said in the doctor's office didn't always stay in the doctor's office. That was 35 years ago, in the age of paper. In today's digital world the problem has only grown worse.

A patient's sensitive information should not be shared without his consent. But this is not the case now, as the country moves toward a system of electronic medical records.

In 2002, under President George W. Bush, the right of a patient to control his most sensitive personal dataŚfrom prescriptions to DNAŚwas eliminated by federal regulators implementing the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. Those privacy notices you sign in doctors' offices do not actually give you any control over your personal data; they merely describe how the data will be used and disclosed.

In a January 2009 speech, President Barack Obama said that his administration wants every American to have an electronic health record by 2014, and last year's stimulus bill allocated over $36 billion to build electronic record systems. Meanwhile, the Senate health-care bill just approved by the House of Representatives on Sunday requires certain kinds of research and reporting to be done using electronic health records. Electronic records, Mr. Obama said in his 2009 speech, "will cut waste, eliminate red tape and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests [and] save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable medical errors that pervade our health-care system."

But electronic medical records won't accomplish any of these goals if patients fear sharing information with doctors because they know it isn't private. When patients realize they can't control who sees their electronic health records, they will be far less likely to tell their doctors about drinking problems, feelings of depression, sexual problems, or exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. In 2005, a California Healthcare Foundation poll found that one in eight Americans avoided seeing a regular doctor, asked a doctor to alter a diagnosis, paid privately for a test, or avoided tests altogether due to privacy concerns.

Today our lab test results are disclosed to insurance companies before we even know the results. Prescriptions are data-mined by pharmacies, pharmaceutical technology vendors, hospitals and are sold to insurers, drug companies, employers and others willing to pay for the information to use in making decisions about you, your job or your treatments, or for research. Self-insured employers can access employees' entire health records, including medications. And in the past five years, according to the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, more than 45 million electronic health records were either lost, stolen by insiders (hospital or government-agency employees, health IT vendors, etc.), or hacked from outside.

Electronic record systems that don't put patients in control of data or have inadequate security create huge opportunities for the theft, misuse and sale of personal health information. The public is aware of these problems. A 2009 poll conducted for National Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health asked if people were confident their medical records would remain confidential if they were stored electronically and could be shared online. Fifty nine percent responded they were not confident.

The privacy of an electronic health record cannot be restored once the contents are sold or otherwise disclosed. Every person and family is only one expensive diagnosis, one prescription, or one lab test away from generations of discrimination.

The solution is to insist upon technologies that protect a patient's right to consent to share any personal data. A step in this direction is to demand that no federal stimulus dollars be used to develop electronic systems that do not have these technologies.

Some argue that consent and privacy controls are impractical or prohibitively costly. But consent is ubiquitous in health care. Ask any physician if she would operate on a patient without informed consent.

There is no need to choose between the benefits of technology and our rights to health privacy. Technologies already exist that enable each person to choose what information he is willing to share and what must remain private. Consent must be built into electronic systems up front so we can each choose the levels of privacy and sharing we prefer.
My organization, Patient Privacy Rights, is starting a "Do Not Disclose" petition so Americans can inform Congress and the president they want to control who can see and use their medical records. We believe Congress should pass a law to build an online registry where individuals can express their preferences for sharing their health information or keeping it private. Such a registry, plus safety technologies for online records, will mean Americans can trust electronic health systems.

Privacy has been essential to the ethical practice of medicine since the time of Hippocrates in fifth century B.C.
The success of health-care reform and electronic record systems requires the same foundation of informed consent patients have always had with paper records systems. But if we squander billions on a health-care system no one trusts, millions will seek treatment outside the system or not at all. The resulting data, filled with errors and omissions, will be worth less than the paper it isn't written on.
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Old March 24th, 2010, 02:37 PM   #2
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I am a big fan of electronic medical records if they are used correctly. In most offices your non electronic records arent all that secure either.
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Old March 24th, 2010, 02:43 PM   #3
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Sounds like a winner.
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Old March 24th, 2010, 08:08 PM   #4
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I am a big fan of electronic medical records if they are used correctly. In most offices your non electronic records arent all that secure either.
Mrs. Bubicon - I agree, except for that whole "if used correctly".

This is the Federal Government we're talking about. The same federal government that routinely has very high level security breaches, allows random folks to attend an invitation only formal state dinner, routinely somehow allows contractors to possess secure/classified information on non-approved laptops, and/or take them out of secure facilities where they are stolen from vehicles, etc, etc, etc.

Never mind the fact that they aren't at all even considering building these systems with measures to allow for the patient to control their own destiny, or give consent.
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Old March 24th, 2010, 08:18 PM   #5
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Old March 24th, 2010, 10:37 PM   #6
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My OB/GYN has an all electronic office. I had a long talk with him about his data security practices since I am an Information Security Manager, and what he didn't say was he was sending my records to either the insurance company or the government. He sends the billing company a medical description code of the service he performed for billing. He is going to email me tomorrow so I will ask him if he's sharing my info with uncle sam.
Most offices have the patient files in unlocked cabinets. The records are no more secure than a rock and a window.
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Old March 25th, 2010, 07:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by kerryann View Post
My OB/GYN has an all electronic office. I had a long talk with him about his data security practices since I am an Information Security Manager, and what he didn't say was he was sending my records to either the insurance company or the government. He sends the billing company a medical description code of the service he performed for billing. He is going to email me tomorrow so I will ask him if he's sharing my info with uncle sam.
Most offices have the patient files in unlocked cabinets. The records are no more secure than a rock and a window.
Most doctors as you describe have patients numbering in the hundreds, or perhaps thousands at best. Any facility with substantially more patients has a filing system and/or building access level that is generally more substantial than requiring a rock to overcome.

If I recall correctly, one of the the last federal breaches involving a contractor, his stolen laptop and data he should not have had in his possession in the first place numbered in the tens of thousands - and potentially is easily foreseeable to be in the millions.

http://fcw.com/articles/2009/12/18/w...en-laptop.aspx

I've seen how a regional Government manages information, and builds systems - and one of the better ones at that. Let's not forget who we're talking about here. Let's also not forget, that when the private sector creates the problem they are held liable. The Government at every level is virtually never held accountable, let alone liable.
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Old March 25th, 2010, 08:15 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by RyeBread View Post
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...ctions_opinion


Your Medical Records Aren't Secure

The president says electronic systems will reduce costs and improve quality, but they could undermine good care if people are afraid to confide in their doctors.
By DEBORAH C. PEEL

I learned about the lack of health privacy when I hung out my shingle as a psychiatrist. Patients asked if I could keep their records private if they paid for care themselves. They had lost jobs or reputations because what they said in the doctor's office didn't always stay in the doctor's office. That was 35 years ago, in the age of paper. In today's digital world the problem has only grown worse.

A patient's sensitive information should not be shared without his consent. But this is not the case now, as the country moves toward a system of electronic medical records.

In 2002, under President George W. Bush, the right of a patient to control his most sensitive personal dataŚfrom prescriptions to DNAŚwas eliminated by federal regulators implementing the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. Those privacy notices you sign in doctors' offices do not actually give you any control over your personal data; they merely describe how the data will be used and disclosed.

In a January 2009 speech, President Barack Obama said that his administration wants every American to have an electronic health record by 2014, and last year's stimulus bill allocated over $36 billion to build electronic record systems. Meanwhile, the Senate health-care bill just approved by the House of Representatives on Sunday requires certain kinds of research and reporting to be done using electronic health records. Electronic records, Mr. Obama said in his 2009 speech, "will cut waste, eliminate red tape and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests [and] save lives by reducing the deadly but preventable medical errors that pervade our health-care system."

But electronic medical records won't accomplish any of these goals if patients fear sharing information with doctors because they know it isn't private. When patients realize they can't control who sees their electronic health records, they will be far less likely to tell their doctors about drinking problems, feelings of depression, sexual problems, or exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. In 2005, a California Healthcare Foundation poll found that one in eight Americans avoided seeing a regular doctor, asked a doctor to alter a diagnosis, paid privately for a test, or avoided tests altogether due to privacy concerns.

Today our lab test results are disclosed to insurance companies before we even know the results. Prescriptions are data-mined by pharmacies, pharmaceutical technology vendors, hospitals and are sold to insurers, drug companies, employers and others willing to pay for the information to use in making decisions about you, your job or your treatments, or for research. Self-insured employers can access employees' entire health records, including medications. And in the past five years, according to the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, more than 45 million electronic health records were either lost, stolen by insiders (hospital or government-agency employees, health IT vendors, etc.), or hacked from outside.

Electronic record systems that don't put patients in control of data or have inadequate security create huge opportunities for the theft, misuse and sale of personal health information. The public is aware of these problems. A 2009 poll conducted for National Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health asked if people were confident their medical records would remain confidential if they were stored electronically and could be shared online. Fifty nine percent responded they were not confident.

The privacy of an electronic health record cannot be restored once the contents are sold or otherwise disclosed. Every person and family is only one expensive diagnosis, one prescription, or one lab test away from generations of discrimination.

The solution is to insist upon technologies that protect a patient's right to consent to share any personal data. A step in this direction is to demand that no federal stimulus dollars be used to develop electronic systems that do not have these technologies.

Some argue that consent and privacy controls are impractical or prohibitively costly. But consent is ubiquitous in health care. Ask any physician if she would operate on a patient without informed consent.

There is no need to choose between the benefits of technology and our rights to health privacy. Technologies already exist that enable each person to choose what information he is willing to share and what must remain private. Consent must be built into electronic systems up front so we can each choose the levels of privacy and sharing we prefer.
My organization, Patient Privacy Rights, is starting a "Do Not Disclose" petition so Americans can inform Congress and the president they want to control who can see and use their medical records. We believe Congress should pass a law to build an online registry where individuals can express their preferences for sharing their health information or keeping it private. Such a registry, plus safety technologies for online records, will mean Americans can trust electronic health systems.

Privacy has been essential to the ethical practice of medicine since the time of Hippocrates in fifth century B.C.
The success of health-care reform and electronic record systems requires the same foundation of informed consent patients have always had with paper records systems. But if we squander billions on a health-care system no one trusts, millions will seek treatment outside the system or not at all. The resulting data, filled with errors and omissions, will be worth less than the paper it isn't written on.



Tony Dick, I mean Weiner, say's your a liar

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/201003...s/ynews_ts1335
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Old March 26th, 2010, 10:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mr Toes View Post
Tony Dick, I mean Weiner, say's your a liar

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/201003...s/ynews_ts1335

wonder if a video of him stating that will be upheld in federal tax court...

never mind, I don't really wonder that at all.
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