Thursday, February 18, 2016

Editorial: Online access to health records welcome, but security a concern

A woman uses her computer keyboard to type while surfing the internet in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, December, 19, 2012. Digital dissenters known as hacktivists have developed a track record for disruption and attracting attention and are now considered one of the three main groups of attackers online, says security software company Websense.
JONATHAN HAYWARD / Regina Leader~Post
  Regina Leader-Post Editorial Board, Regina Leader~Post

  The province’s plan to allow Saskatchewan residents to access their personal health information online is a welcome opportunity for patient participation, but also a daunting additional security challenge.
    Given the number of alarming past breaches of patient privacy in the electronic health record system — which can currently only be accessed by authorized health-care providers — the potential for more violations of patient privacy will increase once the public is allowed access.
    It is good that the province has launched this venture with a six-month trial for up to 1,000 participants. This test phase will hopefully identify security issues and other problems and provide valuable feedback from patients on potential improvements.
    We are not against the online access idea — far from it. Saskatchewan patients have a right to see their own health records whenever and wherever they choose to access them. And that’s what the Citizen Health Information Portal (CHIP) pilot program promises. From lab results and immunization records to a history of hospital and pharmacy visits, patients will be able to log on from anywhere in the world to view them. If they fall sick while travelling overseas, they’ll be able to share those records with physicians treating them, likely saving valuable time and possible unnecessary tests...
   ... If the pilot project leads to full access for all Saskatchewan residents — and we hope it does — it must be made clear that violations of privacy will be severely dealt with...Continue reading...

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