How private are your health records?

Recent highly publicized security breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus made information security front-page news. Now the latest bug nicknamed “Heartbleed”—which impacts the very code (Open SSL) that keeps servers secure—is once again bringing into question how private our “private information” really is.

When inputting credit card information to buy products online, consumers typically consider the security of that online store’s website. However, how often do consumers think about how secure their healthcare records are?

Today marks the beginning of Healthcare Information Privacy and Security Week (April 11-17, 2014). According to MeriTalk, 61 percent of global healthcare organizations experienced a data incident (security breach, data loss or unplanned downtime) within the past year, costing healthcare providers more than $1.6 billion. reports that increased health spending and healthcare insurance exchanges will only cause the number of data breaches in healthcare to surge in 2014. Michael Bruemmer, VP of global information services company Experian’s Data Breach Resolution service, says, “So we have volume issues, security issues, multiple data handling points—all generally not good things for protecting protected health information and personal identity information.”

Patients can take steps to help protect their personal health information by following these tips provided the U.S. Department for Health & Human Services on Healthcare organizations can help mitigate the risk of a data incident—that could be both financially and reputation damaging—by partnering with a healthcare IT services provider that also has experience with complex information security initiatives.

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