Increasing numbers of clinicians and patients are accessing healthcare informatics systems, including personal health records (Bricon-Souf & Conchon, 2015). As such, these informatics systems need to be understood in terms of both their advantages and disadvantages to clinical practice. One use of healthcare informatics that I have experienced personally is the personal health record, which allows a patient to store, access, and add to their own health information remotely. The concern here is mainly with privacy, as the networks that store this information may not always be secure or confidential (Bricon-Souf & Conchon, 2015). Another concern is that the mobile access of health information could be used unethically, perhaps by insurance companies, to bar individuals from accessing health insurance without their knowledge (Bricon-Souf & Conchon, 2015).
There are many ways in which these concerns can be addressed. The first is to call for legislation that protects patients and clinicians from unethical use of healthcare informatics systems. Clinicians can also call for these systems to be made secure in the same way that non-mobile healthcare informatics systems are.
Recently, there was a cybersecurity attack on Burrell Behavioral Center, a large mental health facility in Missouri (Elzie, 2016). The data breach occurred when a non-employee was able to access the email account of someone that worked at the behavioral center. This email account had patient details stored within it, and although there was no evidence that someone has misused the information, it is still of great concern to patients at the center (Elzie, 2016). There are several ways attacks like this can be avoided. The first is by ensuring that email accounts are not accessed by staff members outside of secure networks. Staff members should also be required to change their password on a regular basis. It would also be advised to ensure that patient information is not sent or stored in email inboxes.
- Bricon-Souf, N., & Conchon, E. (2015). A 2015 Medical Informatics Perspective on Health and Clinical Management: Will Cloud and Prioritization Solutions Be the Future of Health Data Management? Yearbook of Medical Informatics, 10(1), 44.
- Elzie, S. (2016, October 18). Hackers gain access to information of Burrell Behavioral Health patients. KSPR. Missouri. Retrieved from http://www.kspr.com/content/news/Hackers-breach-security-of-Springfields-Burrell-Behavorial-Health-patients-397473361.html