Do You Know Where Your Computers Are?

Regulatory Thursday Word Picture

Would you notice if some of the computers were missing from your office?  How about laptops?

In Chicago, 4 million patients’ data is at risk because 4 computers were stolen.  Chicago’s largest physician groups, Advocate Medical Group, which has more than 1,000 physicians and is a part of Advocate Healthcare the area’s largest hospital chain reported that names, addresses, social security numbers and dates of birth were on the missing computers.

“There was a large volume of data on the computers, and the format of the data was very complex,” Golson said. “We were very comprehensive and thorough in our analysis of the data to ensure we were notifying every patient who may be affected.”  The Illinois attorney general’s office is looking into the matter but has yet to determine whether it will take any legal action, a spokeswoman said….

After the extent of the information potentially exposed became clear, Advocate notified the federal Health and Human Services Department and its office of human rights, the Illinois attorney general, some insurance companies, and a handful of elected officials.  Worldwide, 2,644 data breaches were reported in 2012, more than double the 2011 figure, according to the Online Trust Alliance.”

Chicago Tribune, August 24, 2013

More and more breaches of both healthcare and personal information are occurring in doctor’s offices.  As the healthcare industry rapidly moves to electronic information, all doctor’s offices should review their HIPAA/HITECH compliance.

What are you doing to protect against such a breach?  Are your computers encrypted?  Do you perform a regular audit to monitor the location of your computers?  How about the location of laptops?  Would you know if the computers were accessed by unauthorized personnel?

The government is considering a rule that would require notification within 1 hour of the breach.  Will you know you have such a breach to be able to meet this strict time frame?

Since you certainly don’t want to be a feature in a national newspaper for a massive HIPAA breach, you should take action now.

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