Week 5 – Discussion 1 – Privacy and Security

The HIPAA
privacy and security rules provide federal protection for individually
identifiable health information. Consider a physician practice that is
transitioning from being paper based to electronic medical records. The
receptionist area contains both hanging folders and the desktop computer on
which the practice management system runs. During the transition, a patient’s
health information (valued asset) will exist in two states: on paper in a
hanging folder and in an electronic record on a computer.

  • Identify
    and evaluate the risks for each state in terms of:
    • Threats
    • Vulnerabilities
    • Probability
      of a breach (low, medium, or high).
  • In
    your answer include a discussion of authentication, integrity, and
    accountability.


Guided response: Your initial
post should be a minimum of 200-250 words.

  • Utilize
    a minimum of two scholarly sources, excluding the textbook.
  • Sources
    should be cited in APA format, as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.
  • You
    must respond to at least two of your classmate’s posts by Day 7.
  • Your
    three required posts must be on three different days of the week.
  • After
    reading other initial posts, what are some other actions that would
    resolve privacy and security issues during the transition from paper to
    electronic health records.

Expert Solution Preview

Introduction:
Transitioning from paper-based records to electronic medical records (EMR) is a critical step towards enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of health care delivery. However, it also exposes healthcare providers to several security and privacy risks that can lead to unauthorized access, disclosure, and exploitation of patients’ information. Therefore, medical practices need to apply security measures such as technology controls, policies, and procedures to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of patients’ health information.

Identify and evaluate the risks for each state:

During the transition, a patient’s health information exists in two states, and each state presents unique risks for threats, vulnerabilities, and probability of a breach.

Paper-based records:
Threats: Paper-based records are susceptible to physical damage, loss, or theft. Unauthorized access to the patient’s medical records through social engineering, penetration, and theft of printed records is a threat.
Vulnerabilities: The employee’s access to printed records could lead to unauthorized disclosure of confidential patient information.
Probability of a breach: The probability of a breach is low if paper records are strictly monitored, secured, and stored in a locked filing system.

Electronic Medical Records:
Threats: Threats to electronic health records include cyber-attacks, malware, viruses, and unauthorized access.
Vulnerabilities: Cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in the system’s software, weak passwords, and user credentials to gain unauthorized access to patient data.
Probability of a breach: The probability of an electronic health record breach is medium due to the increased number of cyber-attacks.

In your answer include a discussion of authentication, integrity, and accountability:

Authentication refers to the process of verifying users’ identity and granting access to the system. An effective authentication mechanism ensures that only authorized users can access patient data and that data is not compromised by unauthorized individuals. The use of passwords, biometrics, and two-factor authentication can enhance authentication and ensure that only authorized personnel with a legitimate reason can access medical records.

Integrity ensures that the information in the record is accurate and secure. Integrity measures include fraud detection, backup and recovery procedures, and access controls to ensure that data is not altered, modified, or destroyed by unauthorized users.

Accountability refers to taking responsibility for security breaches and ensuring that appropriate measures are implemented to mitigate the risks. Accountability measures may include conducting regular audits, assessments, and compliance checks to ensure that the EMR system’s security controls are effective.

Other actions that would resolve privacy and security issues during the transition from paper to electronic health records include continuous monitoring, encryption, and training on privacy policies and protocols for employees. Monitoring system activities, data backups, and operating system vulnerabilities and updating software patches can also help prevent security breaches and protect patient data.

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