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    Data security: the 800-pound digital elephant in the room for physicians

    As you read this, someone somewhere is gaining unlawful entry to hundreds, possibly thousands, of patient records. And it could well be your patients’ data.

    Small, independent medical practices have enough to worry about on a daily basis, what with balancing the dual responsibilities of improving patients’ well-being and keeping a keen eye on their bottom line. It’s not easy. This pressure is driving many of your peers to give up their private practices, and in some cases practicing medicine altogether.

    But the fact is, if you want to remain in business, you have to protect the most important resource you have: patients. And in this day and age, that includes safeguarding the gold mine of information you have about the individuals who trust you for their care. 

    I’ve heard from numerous physicians who feel they have nothing of value for hackers and cyber-thieves to take. They are small potatoes next to the big hospitals and health systems with thousands upon thousands of names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers and payment information. But even small potatoes can feed a hungry hacker and they count on the fact that you’ll let down your digital defenses thinking you have nothing of value.  

    You have the same information as the larger healthcare entities in your area and—no offense—your gateway to that data is likely less protected than the hospitals’.  Even if your defenses are strong (as you can read in George Ellis’ account of his practice’s breach on page 19), you are still a desirable target for those looking for access to others’ information for their own personal gains.

    Next: So how, as a small practice, do you protect your patients’ data?

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