One could argue to no end about how much of a racket healthcare is in many countries around the world. Many people claim that money can't fix your health. While that may be mostly true, in the retrospect of how healthcare and health insurance works, that statement has some shades of grey to it.
On the flip side of healthcare, we have technology that has wrapped itself around our records and lifelong personal data. In knowing how most of our health information is in some form of ones and zeros, therein lies a vulnerability waiting for cybercrooks to exploit.
Healthcare's Racket May Get Virtually Messy
A recent report made by the IDC's Health Insights group (International Data Corporation) makes some stunning predictions about how there is a lackluster approach to electronic security in healthcare. The report goes on to make its most startling prediction about 2016, a time when the IDC believes that one in three consumers will have their healthcare records compromised by cybercrook attacks.
Lynne Dunbrack, research vice president for IDC Health Insights, said in response to the recent report, "Frankly, healthcare data is really valuable from a cyber criminal standpoint. It could be 5, 10 or even 50 times more valuable than other forms of data."
We are extremely tuned into how cybercriminals work, and we have no doubt that the IDC's predictions will pan out as they explain in their report. However, in the best interest of healthcare providers and companies that safe harbor consumer health data, the message is getting out as to how crucial it is to safeguard such information. The question lies, will they take the appropriate action soon enough before it's too late?
According to the latest FBI statistics, healthcare fraud cases have amounted to costing the industry between $74 billion to $247 bill a year in the United States alone. A lot of healthcare expenses are being directed to cover these costs, and the bottom line is trickling down to consumers.
There are many factors that come into play when it comes to cybercrooks attacking systems for obtaining healthcare record data. While there is more electric data than ever before floating in the land that we know to be the Internet, the risk of such information being compromised is the greatest it has ever been. Cybercrooks are launching aggressive phishing campaigns where they masquerade as trustworthy companies, spam emails are more enticing than ever, and the world of social networking convolutes everything we know about protecting our best interest.
Solving the Healthcare Security Problem
There are several things that will need to be done by healthcare providers, networks and consumers. Unfortunately, the responsibility to prevent cybercrimial activity in the healthcare sector shares a responsibility for everyone, not just one side of the spectrum. Healthcare networks will need to first harden their security and increase the sophistication of security software so they may clearly identify attacks and stop them in their tracks. Healthcare providers will need to take the initiate to educate consumers on accessing and securing their own information, in addition to how it is secured in the workplace environment. Lastly, consumers will need to play an up-front role in safeguarding their information and not willingly relinquish it on unsecure platforms through the Internet.
It's a brave new world. The IDC predicts that by 2018 one in six doctor visits will be virtual. That means you can stay home and teleconference in with your doctor while he/she "treats" you. Moreover, physicians are expected to use machine-learning techniques to identify the most effective method of treatment for complex issues. Ultimately, if all pans out as predicted, mortality rates will be reduced by an astonishing 10% overall. Not to mention all of the billions of dollars that may be saved by taking healthcare to new virtual heights.
If we don't adhere to the stern warnings about our personal data now there could be a catastrophe for many of us lurking at your nearest hospital, doctor's office or quick care provider.