Utah healthcare facility experiences major data breach

The growing emphasis on healthcare IT is allowing all medical employees from facility managers to doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff to improve the quality, speed and precision of patient care through instant access to clinical histories with information derived from multiple different practices.

However, although the digitization of patient data through electronic medical records software and healthcare information exchanges (HIEs) is laying the framework for marked strides in the improvement of the United States' healthcare infrastructure, making all of that information available online increases the likelihood that a data breach will occur.

Medical officials in Salt Lake City learned this lesson first hand recently after the negligence of an employee reportedly led to a significant privacy incident.

According to a report published by The Salt Lake Tribune, an "incomplete layer of security protections on a single computer server" opened the network to hackers suspected to be located in Eastern Europe who capitalized on the weakness in the security system and gained illicit access to roughly 24,000 patient records.

The report goes on to state that it is believed the hackers penetrated the system on Friday March 30, and began downloading the data from Sunday night into Monday when officials recognized that the network had an unusually high volume of data being streamed.

The healthcare agency will now have to determine exactly whose records have been compromised and then notify them to be extra vigilant and to utilize credit monitoring software to protect against fraud and identity theft.

Considering the costs in preventative protection this facility will now need to deploy because of this security error, other facilities concerned with the integrity of their healthcare IT (HIT) applications would be wise to partner with a medical technology consulting company. With a wide range of useful product suites and detailed experience with the issues of the HIT industry, these professionals are a valuable resource who can help tighten security protocols to prevent issues such as this in the future.

Microwize Technology is a leading healthcare IT consultant offering products such as electronic medical records software and medical billing software from top providers like Allscripts and McKesson, including McKesson's Medisoft, Lytec and Practice Choice products.