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Quick Highlight: Data Protection

October 12, 2011

We’ll do a second “quick highlight” today.

Today’s second topic comes from eWeek, which can be found at eweek.com or @eweeknews on Twitter. The article of interest is “Tricare Breach Shows Health Care Groups Still Not Encrypting Patient Data,” published on October 3rd, 2011. The author is Fahmida Rashid.

The article’s first sentence sums it up nicely “Last week’s data breach of patient health records at a military health care provider is a sign that major organizations are still not properly encrypting their data, despite compliance regulations.” [as always, all italics are added by me to denote quotes from the article]

Several federal regulations, including notably HIPAA and HITECH, require extensive protections of patient data, including encryption. Tricare is a very large health care provider for the military, and evidently some of their backup tapes containing patient data were misplaced. If they were encrypted, that wouldn’t be so bad. It’s not clear that it was encrypted, and Rashid takes Tricare to task over the possibility of such an omission: “While employees need to be trained to understand the importance of keeping data private, organizations have to assume that information could potentially be exposed.

Yes, people, we need to take care of our data. This is an interesting glimpse into some of the issues that come along with maintaining health data, and worth a read just for that reason.

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