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A Risky Rx for Your Digital Records
Smart Money ^ | 19Jun 2012 | TANIA KARAS

Posted on 06/20/2012 8:10:04 AM PDT by shove_it

Lured by huge incentives, doctors are rushing to digitize your medical files. The move, though, might have some nasty side effects for patients.

Few health care trends have gotten as much press of late as the mad rush into electronic health records. Physicians, driven by the promise of better care, cost savings and nearly $23 billion in new federal incentive payments, are racing to turn their scribbled medical records into digital files. Thirty-five percent of hospitals now use such systems, more than double the share two years ago, according to U.S. government figures. But for all the hype about electronic records, little attention has been paid to what some say is a serious weak spot: When those sensitive bits and bytes fall into the wrong hands, it's often patients who feel the pain.

Since 2009, there have been more than 420 security breaches involving the records of some 19 million patients, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights. And such breaches are on the rise. A December 2011 report by the Ponemon Institute, a security-research firm, found that the frequency of data losses and thefts among health care organizations increased 32 percent over the previous year.

With studies so far focused nearly exclusively on the impact of such losses on health care providers, the cost to consumers has been largely ignored -- a fact some experts find mind-boggling. "There's more financial damage that can be created from your health insurance information than a credit card number," says Rick Kam, president of ID Experts, a data-privacy consulting firm. A medical identity thief, for example, might use a stolen insurance card to submit false claims in order to get cash back -- which can cause the real insurance holder to be saddled with a higher insurance premium, or even left on the hook for fraudulent medical bills. And unlike the case with credit cards, says Harry Rhodes, director of practice leadership for the American Health Information Management Association, there are no industry measures to limit consumer liability in medical-record fraud. Of still greater concern are the potential health consequences: If a thief uses stolen data to obtain medical care for himself, his health information is automatically merged into the electronic file, Rhodes says. The result could be grave to the original patient if he or she has a serious medication allergy or if a new medical diagnosis suddenly changes a care regimen.

Given the stakes, experts like Deven McGraw, director of the Health Privacy Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington, D.C., advise consumers to guard their health insurance cards the way they would their credit cards and to carefully review their statements of insurance benefits. Beyond that, pros say, patients should ask their doctors how sensitive data is being protected. After all, says Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute, "Patients' lives depend on it."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Front Page News
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1 posted on 06/20/2012 8:10:12 AM PDT by shove_it
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To: shove_it

If I can securely do my banking and brokerage online, my digitized medical records can be secure too. Health-care apologists don’t like digitization because by making medical records easier to transfer, it threatens their monopoly.


2 posted on 06/20/2012 8:24:27 AM PDT by BlazingArizona
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To: shove_it

And id a thief gets our digital medical file, they also get our Social Security number as well.


3 posted on 06/20/2012 8:24:45 AM PDT by july4thfreedomfoundation (Obama.....He's got your back (pocket) so he can steal your wallet.)
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To: july4thfreedomfoundation

Sigh. “id” should be “if.”


4 posted on 06/20/2012 8:25:59 AM PDT by july4thfreedomfoundation (Obama.....He's got your back (pocket) so he can steal your wallet.)
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To: shove_it

HIPAA is the prototype bureaucratic boondoggle. 420 breaches in 19 million is 0.0000221%. How much real damage was done by those breaches? It’s out of control bureaucracy that grows every year. More government union jobs created to make more rules it can enforce so they can create more government jobs to enforce them. More and more money diverted from actual health care to pay pencil-pushers for useless crap. How big a problem was all of this 15 years ago before HIPAA? It wasn’t a problem. It’s a government bogeyman that an “expert” from an identity security firm in this article (looking to cash in ) tells us is a huge problem. I could go on.


5 posted on 06/20/2012 8:33:28 AM PDT by The Good Doctor (Democracy is the only system where you can vote for a tax that you can avoid the obligation to pay.)
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To: BlazingArizona
Health-care apologists don’t like digitization because by making medical records easier to transfer, it threatens their monopoly.

That is the truth...I am an accountant..everyone in my profession is pretty much against the fair tax. I do mostly corporate stuff(audit Fortune 500 co's) and there is a big push there to not makes things too easy lest we be out of a job.

Just went to a Urgent Care facility for a sore throat. Doc came in with a ipad type device-said he loved the electronic records. Asked me what pharmacy I used..I told him and when I went there my prescription was waiting..he sent it over online. No paper.

6 posted on 06/20/2012 8:38:55 AM PDT by trailhkr1 (All you need to know about Zimmerman, innocent = riots, manslaughter = riots, guilty = riots)
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To: BlazingArizona
Health-care apologists don’t like digitization because by making medical records easier to transfer, it threatens their monopoly.

Some health-care apologists don’t like digitization because by making medical records easier to transfer, it makes your entire history and personal identity, from womb to tomb, available to Big Brother's database in the sky, at the click of a button.

When digitization becomes mandatory, I will leave medicine. I cannot in good conscience give all my patients' private data to Big Brother.

7 posted on 06/20/2012 8:48:25 AM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: The Good Doctor

Bad math.

The 420 system breaches resulted in the disclosure of 19 million sets of patients’ records to hackers.

In just 2 system breaches at Atlanta hospitals, over 225,000 records were compromised.


8 posted on 06/20/2012 8:48:40 AM PDT by wrench
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To: shove_it

I can give you all another headache:

Years ago, I worked for a major recording studio/record company.

At that time, they wanted to go into the cd’s.

They could not get long term holding performance out of the plastic units.

Within 5 years, they would start to break down & lose bytes of info, often very much sooner.

I don’t know what the shelf life of today’s CD’s and other electronic storage is, but I won’t depend upon it for anything I care about.

I have pictures of my grandfather- who died in 1927 or so on paper in plain old black and white & I don’t intend to ever change that. I have lots of other photos from my life.

I actually know a person who took about the equivalent of 4 ‘banker’s boxes’ of various pictures-—from great grand parents, all the way to today’s grandchildren & everything in between and put them all onto CD’s.

Then instead of just carefully storing the boxes, she actually BURNED everything-—said she never needed tham again.

I didn’t tell her about what I knew from where I had worked. The deed was done!


9 posted on 06/20/2012 8:57:45 AM PDT by ridesthemiles
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To: Dr. Brian Kopp

God Bless You for your fortitude.


10 posted on 06/20/2012 8:59:26 AM PDT by ridesthemiles
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To: BlazingArizona
I've had to cancel several credit cards and one brokerage account in recent years due to fraud. They didn't cost me any $, just annoying inconveniences. What concerns me about digitized medical records is having somebody else’s data merged with mine; those records are voluminous.
11 posted on 06/20/2012 9:02:26 AM PDT by shove_it (just undo it)
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To: BlazingArizona
If I can securely do my banking and brokerage online, my digitized medical records can be secure too.

I'm more concerned about the records being held in third-party hands. If my doctor is asked by some government bureaucrat to hand over my written records, he's likely to say "And you reason for wanting the records is?". A third-party datastore will just say "here". More likely, they will have electronic portals where law enforcement, IRS, and whoever can just grab the data.

12 posted on 06/20/2012 9:04:05 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 (If I can't be persuasive, I at least hope to be fun.)
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To: PapaBear3625

Electronic health records will also make it easier for the DemocRATs to “leak” info on anyone that opposes them.


13 posted on 06/20/2012 9:35:17 AM PDT by DFG ("Dumb, Dependent, and Democrat is no way to go through life" - Louie Gohmert (R-TX))
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To: Dr. Brian Kopp
When digitization becomes mandatory, I will leave medicine. I cannot in good conscience give all my patients' private data to Big Brother.

In the single payer workers paradise ALL records will be accessed for review by the bureaucratic "health panels" in DC. Every diagnosis and treatment is coded for their database and will be prioritized for funding. Also age and demographics will be part of the "health care" matrix to determine funding for "approved" care. Digitalization is intended to bring every medical record in the country under an obama like czar who really knows whats best for the working man and his subservient "provider". I always hate to hear "provider" instead of doctor.

14 posted on 06/20/2012 9:49:32 AM PDT by strongbow
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To: shove_it
The last time I was at my Dr's Office I REFUSED to allow this.
Nurse: 'This is really good. You'll be able to see all your records on-line any time you want'.
Me: 'And so will the Government, or any Hacker who may get mad at you. So no thanks'.
And I'll decline again if 'asked' when I go back on July 9th.
15 posted on 06/20/2012 10:51:53 AM PDT by Condor51 (Never mess with an old man. He won't fight you he'll just kill you.)
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To: ridesthemiles

Problem is, paper burns or can be destroyed by water.

The best back-up strategy is 3-2-1.

3 copies
2 types of media
1 off-site

For all of my digitized family documents and photos, I have the following:

1 copy on my iMac.
1 copy on Time Machine backup on the other side of the house (where my cable modem / Time Machine are located.
1 copy uploaded to my web host.
1 Weekly backup to external bare drives in my office 65 miles from my house. Rotated each monday, new backup comes in, older drive goes back home.

All automated. And all secure.


16 posted on 06/20/2012 11:56:03 AM PDT by ace2u_in_MD (You missed something...)
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To: shove_it

No different than Credit Reports, and those can be impossible to work out. But, in that case, you are not the customer, the banks / credit grantors are, so the average Joe is out of luck.


17 posted on 06/20/2012 11:58:28 AM PDT by ace2u_in_MD (You missed something...)
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To: july4thfreedomfoundation

Your SSN is all over the place. There are other avenues to get a SSN compromised. Band, Credit Report, etc.


18 posted on 06/20/2012 12:00:06 PM PDT by ace2u_in_MD (You missed something...)
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To: Condor51

Having lived in several states over my lifetime, and seen many doctors, I took up a project to collect ALL of my medical records with my current doctor back when I turned 40.

It.Was.A.Pain.

The electronic collection and aggregation of this data could make a real difference in life-or-death situations where you would be unable to speak for yourself.

As an example, I just had my ankle rebuilt. My surgeon was able to call up the last x-ray from the computer in the office from the lab several miles away. When I had the procedure done, everything was at the surgical center. Then when I went back for my post-procedure follow-up, all the notes from the procedure were back in the electronic case file. When I went back to the hospital, the Physical Therapy have access to everything to design my rehab program for my ankle. At my 30 day follow-up, the new data on my rehab progress was made immediately available from the PT practice to the Dr.

People may be worried, as expressed here on the thread. People were also worried that the issuance of SSNs were equal to “the mark of the devil”.


19 posted on 06/20/2012 12:10:05 PM PDT by ace2u_in_MD (You missed something...)
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To: Dr. Brian Kopp

“When digitization becomes mandatory, I will leave medicine.”

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, buddy.

Whenever my wife signs up with another one of the many specialists to which she has been referred, we have to sit down, pick up pens and scratch our way through yet another one of those infernal paper histories, which will then become part of that wall of paper records behind the receptionist’s station. Every other business in the 21st Century keeps its core data in servers, instantly accessible to whoever may need it.

Every time we sit down in a doctor’s office with that thick pad of history forms to go through, we have to remember how old we were when we got chicken pox or whether a great-grandmother had lupus. It’s not my place to determine how relevant that information is, but one of our lives may one day possibly depend on its accuracy. In building any database, there is a fundamental rule that each piece of information be captured once, and then not forgotten. Each time we have to keep regurgitating the same old data, there an increased chance that we will get it wrong. Your beloved haystack of paper conceals who-knows-how many needles of inaccuracy?

If electronic records are Big Brother, he already has access to every other aspect of our lives. I will jump for joy the day each new doctor can pull our records from an online jacket with the same ease that I can pay bills on my bank’s website from Germany.


20 posted on 06/20/2012 3:28:09 PM PDT by BlazingArizona
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To: BlazingArizona

Giving up liberty for convenience. I’ll be glad to walk away from those who would give Big Brother all their liberties and freedoms just so they don’t have to fill out a couple forms. This generation of health care consumers just don’t understand what’s coming. But some of them might deserve it.


21 posted on 06/20/2012 8:09:59 PM PDT by Brian Kopp DPM
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To: ace2u_in_MD
I can see your situation and then it may be valuable at some time for you.

But in my and my wife's case we've been seeing one 'Medical Group' of doctors like forever. My file has everything, my entire medical history going back to 1967, and is over an inch thick.

And I can see my Primary Care Dr on 'Tuesday' and my Orthopedic Surgeon in a different office on 'Wednesday' and my file is there. Ditto if I have to go to a specialist that isn't in that one Medical Building and even in a different suburb, like I did for a Numerologist one time.

I don't know how they accomplish that feat and I don't care. But for sure I don't want that file of mine anywhere on the Internet. Not even if it was 'protected' by the NSA (aka: No Such Agency) and stored underground at Area 51.

See, I take one Rx that was initially developed for a particular 'serious medical condition'. But it was later found to be effective for treatment for an entirely different 'none serious' (aka: life threatening) condition. And if that Rx info ever got into the wrong hands like: Schumer, Di-Fi, Bloomberg, Rahm, or HOLDER, I'd be F___ed! (get that hint there?)

22 posted on 06/21/2012 7:49:35 AM PDT by Condor51 (Never mess with an old man. He won't fight you he'll just kill you.)
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To: Condor51
grrrr. Spell Check Demon got me.

'Numerologist' should be Neurologist.

23 posted on 06/21/2012 7:52:58 AM PDT by Condor51 (Never mess with an old man. He won't fight you he'll just kill you.)
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To: shove_it

24 posted on 06/21/2012 7:53:54 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: Condor51

Ok, but do you travel? One car accident out of state and the ER is working with a blank slate if you are unable to speak.


25 posted on 06/26/2012 7:33:58 AM PDT by ace2u_in_MD (You missed something...)
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To: Condor51

Also, the Rx you are worried about is already linked to you by the Pharmacy where you had it filled at. And, unless you are a 100% cash customers of your Medical Group, then there is an electronic record filed with your insurance company.


26 posted on 06/26/2012 7:39:35 AM PDT by ace2u_in_MD (You missed something...)
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