Healthcare industry eyes data security responsibility

Healthcare industry eyes data security responsibility

With high-profile legislation and industry regulators behind the wheel, the healthcare industry is driving toward a monumental shift in its core IT principles.

Electronic health records are the next big thing in healthcare, and with them come overarching concerns over data protection and Internet security. The benefits of electronic health records stem from their ability to be shared immediately between patients, doctors and insurers located across the country, minus the inefficient process of transferring paper documents. This involves a high-tech communication network stretching across state and international borders, through which sensitive information is transferred daily.

Subsequently, healthcare industry analysts have responded actively to new research on where responsibility lies for data security. A recent survey from CA Technologies found 69 percent of cloud service vendors believe their enterprise customers are mostly responsible for data security. Meanwhile, another survey conducted by the Ponemon Institute found that 32 percent of responding cloud users believe the vendor should be tasked with data protection, and 33 percent see it as a shared responsibility.

These findings have turned some heads in the healthcare IT sector. In a recent report for Healthcare IT News, Jeff Rowe, an editor tasked with monitoring the impact of the HITECH Act on the healthcare sector, said healthcare IT will be stifled until it sees a clear definition of cloud computing security.

Moving forward, Rowe foresees the issue to “end up at least partially in the laps of policymakers,” and urges them to keep the future of healthcare in mind when doing so.

“After all, this isn’t the last time HIT is going to advance. So even as they struggle to get security right for current systems, policymakers need to be glancing on a regular basis at the security issues just around the corner,” Rowe wrote.

Data protection is even more important these days, as threats are on the rise. A study conducted by Verizon found the number of data leak incidents jumped from 141 in 2009 to 760 last year.

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