Keeping patient data private and protected

Last updated: 21 March 2014

You may have seen the news recently about our healthcare project with Seattle Children’s, where we helped staff replace weak and static passwords with strong authentication contactless technology. Following on from this, I was delighted to come across Robert Keeler’s blog post on the news, entitled: “Has Healthcare EHR Turned the Corner? Yes!”

It is great to see people like Robert share our enthusiasm for innovation in the healthcare sector. As he correctly identifies, healthcare systems are becoming increasingly digitized, so there is a growing demand for tighter protection of our data. Providers need to access electronic medical records in a way that is both secure and non-disruptive to their daily activities so that they can continue to focus on the high levels of care their patients deserve.

My colleague Kristine wrote a few weeks ago about a number of high-profile examples during the past year alone, where paper health records were stolen with alarming ease. The evolution towards digital records is helping prevent such cases occurring, but we still need to ensure patient data is private and protected.

In the video below, Seattle Children’s VP and CTO, Wes Wright, explains why it is so important that patient data is protected in a way that is affordable, secure and convenient for the right users.

OTP is currently the most effective way of meeting the demands of the healthcare sector, and as Wes points out, specific areas could be moved to PKI authentication in the near future. Wes mentions that in the future, two-factor authentication is not going to be something that’s optional, which is encouraging to hear in an industry that, in my opinion, has been slow in securing our private data.

Those of you who have read Kristine’s post will be aware of the number of high-profile data theft cases we have seen in the last year alone, and I find it staggering that we seem to be more worried about our financial data being accessed than our most personal healthcare information.

Sure, waking up to discover money missing from your account is a horrific experience, but imagine waking up to find your health data has been stolen, your insurance company billed and the first time you hear of it is when you try to get treatment at your local center.

Healthcare going digital will bring better treatment and more sustainable care. But we cannot move forward with our eyes closed to potential data theft and its repercussions. We expect our hospitals, nurses and physicians to treat us with the utmost care and respect, and we should expect no less for our records in the digital era.