Can patients trust you in the age of electronic privacy scandals?

By Kate Dewhirst

In the last few years, the public has heard a lot of scary things about electronic privacy scandals.

In 2017, one company admitted their electronic records were compromised leaving millions of users’ financial information exposed.

In May 2017, the WannaCry Ransomware attack negatively impacted 19,000 healthcare appointments across the United Kingdom which response cost the NHS over £92 million. That cyber attack had a local impact at an Ontario hospital.

In early 2018, social media users around the world were disturbed to find out their data may have been mined by a company called Cambridge Analytica. Seemingly benign answers to personality quizzes and content posted to accounts may have been utilized to target individuals to sway elections and public opinion.

In May 2018, two of Canada’s largest banks were hacked and client data was stolen.

June 2018 brought the story of an Ontario health sector hack of home care records held for ransom.

In November 2018, the postal service admitted a privacy breach involving information of online cannabis consumers.

So it may not come as a surprise to you that there are a few people who are not exactly gung-ho about the miracle of electronic health records and the movement toward a Provincial integrated electronic health record for Ontario.

The scary context is important to remember.

Moving toward a provincial health information system is essential. It’s vital to the continuity of care and improving the quality of our healthcare service and experience. But it can also be disconcerting to people who care about privacy and who are rightfully nervous about the potential risks associated with integration.

Remember these people when you are communicating the wonders of integrated health information. Remember to take privacy seriously. Remember to survey your patients and caregivers to hear about what excites and worries them about this new world. Remember to focus on delivering messages that reassure and explain your safeguards. This effort will help you get the buy-in you need from the people you serve.

Attention privacy officers …

If you want to register for my free upcoming Ask Me Anything Privacy Officer webinars – you can sign up by clicking on the dates below:

February 6 – 9 a.m.

March 6 – 4 p.m.

If you are ready to join my privacy officer training, sign up here for a course starting in April 2019 or sign up for the next Advanced Privacy Officer training on June 18, 2019.

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