With increased use of information technology in healthcare system, unauthorized access of health information occurs more frequently where many hospitals/clinics have computers in hallways and patient rooms as opposed to only behind the front desk. Data breaches in healthcare system has grown in both frequency and size with the largest unauthorized access of health information affecting about 80 million people in the United States (Patil & Seshadri, 2014). Unauthorized access of healthcare information often exposes sensitive information from a personally identifiable information such as patient’s medical histories, health insurance information, addresses sensitive to health data, names, and social security numbers.
According to American Nursing Informatics Association, (2015) the major cause of data breaches in healthcare industry is human error. Most of these errors which lead to data breaches appear to be accidental such as improper release of papers or misdirected fax. Another cause of increased unauthorized access of health information is poor healthcare IT security. Healthcare organization lag behind in building secure architecture compared to many other industries. Besides, widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) is another cause of data breaches.
Since the publication of the Institute of Medicine, patient safety has always been a major concern. The need for safer healthcare system includes implementing security in various forms of information technology such as EHRs. Many errors and unintentional consequences have evolved with the increasing use of new technology. Studies have indicated many concerns related to EHRs regarding patient safety (Gabriel et al. 2018).
Patient safety is a common goal for many healthcare systems. As a nursing student, I intend to become future nursing informatics specialists where I will be able to communicate, interpret, and manage patient’s information that comes in and out of the facility. Nurse informatics play a crucial role for ensuring safety events of health information have been addressed (Rupp, 2014). Acquiring competencies and skills in nursing informatics will help me to identify possible incidences of data breaches and how to solve them when they arise.
American Nursing Informatics Association, (2015). Addressing the safety of electronic health records. Retrieved from https://www.ania.org/about-us/position-statements/addressing-safety-electronic-health-records
Gabriel, M. H., Noblin, A., Rutherford, A., Walden, A., & Cortelyou-Ward, K. (2018). Data breach locations, types, and associated characteristics among US hospitals. The American journal of managed care, 24(2), 78-84.
Patil, H. K., & Seshadri, R. (2014, June). Big data security and privacy issues in healthcare. In Big Data (Big Data Congress), 2014 IEEE International Congress on (pp. 762-765). IEEE
Rupp, S. (2014). How nurses are using health information to improve patient care. Electronic Health Reporter. Retrieved from http://electronichealthreporter.com/nurses-using-health-informatics-improve-patient-care/