Data security issues have put 21 million medical records at risk
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Data security issues have put 21 million medical records at risk

Many in the healthcare field are looking into alternative storage strategies to account for medical records. Because so many people go to hospitals and a variety of doctors, keeping paper files or storing them on hard drives may no longer present a scalable solution. Not only could such approaches send costs soaring, but documents can be vulnerable in the case of a natural or manmade disaster.

As such, many medical care providers have turned to technology to address their needs. A number of experts have decided to house their files on the cloud. Not only does it provide scalable storage, but it can also allow multiple doctors to access patient information if the individual should require the services of a professional other than their primary care physician.

However, a recent study revealed that over the last three years, data breaches have left the records of approximately 21 million individuals vulnerable. According to Computerworld, citing statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights, since September 2009, there have been 477 separate breaches that have affected more than 500 patients at a time. Six of those incidents exposed the information of more than 1 million individuals.

Computerworld reported the largest hack occurred at the location of a contractor for the Department of Defense, when the organization's TRICARE Management Activity, providers of care for the armed forces and their families, lost 4.9 million records after backup tapes disappeared.

According to a recent Xerox survey, though many doctors support using electronic health records (EHRs), patients are somewhat skeptical of privacy protections. Approximately 85 percent of individuals surveyed said they were wary about the possibility of EHRs, with 60 percent noting they saw professionals record their data directly onto a tablet, laptop or computer station.