A powerful Republican senator with a medical degree is warning that the nation’s transition to electronic patient records will lure cyber intruders and should be reconsidered.
The federal government is spending nearly $20 billion in economic stimulus funds to move doctors from paper to digital records for storing health information. With privacy and money at stake, a Senate Judiciary Committee panel met Wednesday afternoon to review the current rubric for protecting health information in a wired society. Backers of electronic health records say the technology has the potential to improve treatment, lower costs and advance research. Critics of recent implementations, including Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Privacy, Technology and the Law Subcommittee, say e-patient records are ripe for hacking.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Coburn, a practicing obstetrician, referenced the exploits of Chinese cyber attackers to illustrate the vulnerability of digital versus paper information. “There are always going to be people who will go around” computer security to obtain sensitive information, he said. “Just ask our Defense Department with China right now. Ask our private companies with China right now — the hacking that’s going on. The very sophisticated people, they’ve got to get into my office to get it, when it’s on a piece of paper.”
via NextGov, continued here.