Are Hospitals securing patient data properly?
Written by Sarah Brooks
When it comes to health, one’s medical records are everything.
According to Health.com, surgery mix-ups are more common than we're believed to think. Over a 6.5 year period, Colorado doctors operated on the wrong part of a patients' body more than 100 times, and on the wrong patient in general more than 25 times.
The same study found that approximately one-third of the patient mix-ups had long-term effects on the patient.
In addition to patient mix-ups, identity theft is a problem amongst hospitals, as well.
A recent Ponemon Institute study found that approximately 1.5 million Americans have been a victim of medical identity theft.
Hospital workers are sometimes the culprits - selling personal information of the patients - and sometimes the general population is the culprits - stealing someone's identity specifically to obtain health care and health care benefits.
In order to prevent these crimes, security has to be tightened and medical records must be better protected.
What can hospitals do?
Ponemon Institutealso found that $6 billion is spent annually on breaches of patient information. Worse yet, the study found that protecting patient records is not a top priority of many hospitals. The areas that are most susceptible to theft include billing and private medical records.
Hospitals can choose data organizational programs that put safety and protection high on the priority list.
Syncsort, for example, is a way to integrate big data, smarter (as the slogan says). Big data is defined as a large, complex collection of multiple data sets that must be stored, shared and of course, protected. A great way for hospitals to tighten security among patient data records is by choosing companies such as Syncsort or Pivotal.
Hospitals can also make sure all of their data on hard drives is encrypted, or converted into a code. This protects the patients personal medical records if a computer or laptop were to go missing.
To help prevent patient mix-ups, the Joint Commission developed a technique where surgeons and the entire surgical team take a pre-surgery "time out."
During this break, the patient is double-checked, along with the site where the operation will take place. Human error is the main reason for patient mix-ups, not necessarily errors within the medical records system.
Keep in mind that a significant amount of errors happen long before the patient is prepped for surgery. There may have been a mix-up in test results, lab results or diagnostic procedures.
In addition to improving medical databases and protecting private patient information, double-checking everything from blood samples and MRI scans to the patients' correct name and reason for being in the hospital is crucial.
With Obamacare being enacted, most hospitals will eventually switch to electronic health records.
Hospital responsibilities are increasing - they're narrowing in on providing better care for patients, minimizing costs and improving the health of people overall.
Let's just hope millions of private records are protected from identity theft, patient mix-ups and more.
About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ. She writes on health, personal finance and small businesses.
Schneider Electric's intelligent patient room: need to know
Schneider Electric has launched a virtual showcase that features its new "intelligent patient room". What is it exactly?
Who: Schneider Electric is a multinational that develops energy and automation solutions for many different industries - including hospitality, education, defence, and healthcare. Founded in 1836, today it is a Fortune 500 company, and it currently provides technology to 40% of hospitals around the world, among them Penn Medicine, one of the top hospitals in the US where Schneider's EcoStruxure for Healthcare is deployed, an IoT solution.
What: Schneider has launched its Innovation Experience Live Healthcare Lab, an immersive experience that takes visitors through a demonstration of a hospital, including the doctor’s office, the operating room, and the intelligent patient room.
The room features a digital patient footwall - a touchscreen that creates a single reference point for patients, families and healthcare providers, by incorporating care information, entertainment and environmental controls all in one place. A separate digital patient door display has important information for healthcare staff.
All Schneider's equipment is low-voltage, and integrated so that the patient room, clinical needs and IT are all seamlessly connected, what Schneider calls a digital “system of systems.”
Why: Mike Sanders, Customer Projects & Services in Healthcare Innovation at Schneider Electric, explains: “The hospital of the future will need to put the patient experience at the forefront, using innovative and connected systems to provide superior in-hospital care experiences.”
“With the shift to remote work and business brought forth by the pandemic, we knew that we needed to invest in a new virtual experience that showcases our vision for a truly integrated healthcare experience. We believe our intelligent patient room is the solution that our healthcare partners and customers have been looking for, and we’re excited to offer a way for them to experience it no matter where they are in the world.”
Where: The virtual experience was modelled after the new innovations installed at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, the first real-world installation of Schneider Electric’s fully integrated intelligent patient room technology. It is currently being hosted at the company’s St. Louis Innovation Hub and Innovation Executive Briefing Center (IEBC) facility.