2010: The Year of the Healthcare Data Breach

An article today on iHealthbeat titled “Innovation Inspired by Economics: 2010 Health IT Forecast” discusses trends and expectations for growth in healthcare information technologies despite the financial issues faced by many US healthcare providers currently.

“Necessity being the mother of invention, a constrained economic environment will lead to health IT innovations in two ways. First, lower cost technologies are emerging in health IT, such as open-source software, software as a service, and cloud computing, all of which will be priced lower than traditional health IT offerings. Cloud computing (the use of the Internet to store, manipulate and deliver data already existing on the Web) is seen by some health IT consultants as a useful tool in health, especially for small medical practices.”

The growth in adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems, combined with the noted trends towards the use of open source software and cloud computing, combined with a new privacy legislation with steep penalties for breaches in security, creates a “perfect storm” for healthcare with respect to data breach incidents.

iHealthbeat article further notes the evolution of risks and new legal requirements now associated with HIPAA business associates.

“We can expect tougher privacy and security enforcement in health care in 2010 because of new and heftier privacy and security penalties written into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The civil penalty cap will be raised from $25,000 to $1.5 million. This is a major issue for 2010 because nearly 60% of business associates interviewed in a HIMSS Analytics survey in November 2009 were unaware that changes to HIPAA will go into effect in 2010. That’s when consumers are guaranteed ‘prompt access’ to an electronic copy of their health records.”

Everything points toward 2010 being a very interesting year when it comes to patient privacy and data security.

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