How prying eyes put PHI at risk

Healthcare organizations need to not only worry about patient data being compromised by outside sources, but also because of prying eyes within their walls.

Snooping and spying is human nature, Kate Borten, president and founder of The Marblehead Group, tells And as personal health information is increasingly viewed on computer screens, tablets and mobile phones, the ability for someone to see data they shouldn't grows.

A screen facing out into a hallway or waiting area could mean people catching glimpses of very private information, but a solution could be as simple as re-angling the screen, Borten says.

The increase in adoption of electronic health records has led to more snooping by hospital employees of the records of celebrities and others in the news, according to a previous report from National Public Radio.

Training of employees is also of utmost importance, a strategy that many IT executives support.

Making sure those who handle patient data know their responsibility for safeguarding the information is key, according to Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance; organizations, he says, must lay down rules to create a culture of cybersecurity.

Borten adds that a "walk around audit" could be helpful for managers to check and make sure employees are logging out before stepping away from computers and keeping sensitive tools and documents out of sight.

Safety of data is more about evolution, rather than about revolutionary changes, she adds.

While work on initiatives like ICD-10 and Meaningful Use are expected to decrease this year, security work will only increase, Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka wrote in his blog last month.

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