Huge Hack Shows Vulnerability of Electronic Health Records

 

***NEWS RELEASE***

For Immediate Release
June 10, 2015

CONTACT:
Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096, ext. 102, or Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com

 

Huge Hack Shows Vulnerability of Electronic Health Records

 

As Info of 4 Million Government Employees Is Compromised by China, Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom Says Congress Must Halt Move to Require EHR Interoperability

 

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Theft of any kind is unsettling. But for the victims of a massive data hack, like the one allegedly recently perpetrated by China, it is especially scary, as those affected don't know how long their personal information has been compromised, what the thieves have access to or how they plan to use it.

How much more frightening would it be if the sensitive data that was stolen were your private medical information? As it turns out, the medical records of 1.3 million federal employees insured by Anthem Inc. were hacked probably by the same Chinese perpetrators.

Twila Brase, president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom (CCHF, www.cchfreedom.org), a Minnesota-based national organization dedicated to preserving patient-centered health care and protecting patient and privacy rights, says the huge hack should serve as a grim reminder of the danger of blindly trusting the security of online-accessible records of any kind.

“This most recent data breach against federal employees should be a wake-up call to Congress to halt the push for the mass interoperability of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), as well as the Obamacare exchange database of every patient who enrolls in an exchange,” Brase said. “EHRs are not only dangerous for patients and impose costly and time-consuming requirements on doctors, now the EHR is turning into a national security nightmare.”

CCHF has been working diligently to educate both lawmakers and the public about the dangers of federally mandated EHRs that will dump the private medical data of millions of patients into one giant interoperable system, accessible to many, including hackers.

Experts say China is allegedly responsible for the massive government data breach of the Office of Personnel Management that compromised the information of about 4 million current and former federal employees, potentially in an effort to create a giant database of U.S. government workers, according to a report by The Atlantic.

The Atlantic went on to report that the data was not sold, but kept for other purposes, adding that “the data reportedly cover employees going back as far as 1985, and includes information on employees who applied for security clearances.”

Brase points out that if background checks and security clearances can be hacked, so can sensitive and private medical records. Already this year, Anthem Inc., the second-largest health insurer in the United States, experienced a massive data breach that affected 80 million customers, whose names, birthdays, medical IDs, social security numbers, street addresses, e-mail addresses, employment information and some income data were compromised, CNN reported in February.

“Hackers and cyber criminals are no longer only after our credit cards to make a few purchases and ruin our finances,” Brase said. “The intent of government actors is much more sinister, and advancing a national initiative to combine Americans’ private medical records into one unsecured system opens the door not only to standard criminals but also to those who are a potential threat to our national security.”

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) is the agency pushing for the nationwide interoperability roadmap and the widespread use of EHRs. The ONC asked for public comments on the initiative, and many submitted comments expressing serious concerns. Stated one commenter, “I am very opposed to this. It proposes to repeal federal law that allows state legislatures to enact true medical privacy laws for citizens. It views patient data as public property rather than personal property. It has uses of data that many patients will not accept.”

The American Medical Association has also expressed concerns about the EHR interoperability push, as well as the security risks that EHR technology pose on the medical sector and patient safety, according to EHRIntelligence.com(“EHR Data Interoperability Needs Strong Security Platforms.” )

For more information about CCHF, visit its web site at www.cchfreedom.org, its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cchfreedom or its Twitter feed, @CCHFreedom.

Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom is a patient-centered national health freedom organization based in St. Paul, Minn., that exists to protect health care choices and patient privacy.​​ CCHF sponsors the daily, 60-second radio feature, Health Freedom Minute, which airs on approximately 350 stations nationwide, including 200 on the American Family Radio Network and 100 on the Bott Radio Network. Listeners can learn more about the agenda behind health care initiatives and​ steps they can take to protect their health care choices, rights and privacy. 

CCHF president and co-founder Twila Brase, R.N., has been called one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Health Care” and one of “Minnesota’s 100 Most Influential Health Care Leaders.” A public health nurse, Brase has been interviewed by CNN, Fox News, Minnesota Public Radio, NBC Nightly News, NBC’s Today Show, NPR, New York Public Radio, the Associated Press, Modern Healthcare, TIME, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Washington Times, among others. She is at the forefront of informing the public of crucial health issues, such as intrusive wellness and prevention initiatives in Obamacare, patient privacy, informed consent, the dangers of “evidence-based medicine” and the implications of state and federal health care reform.

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For more information or to interview Twila Brase, president and co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, contact Deborah Hamilton at 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102, or Beth Harrison at 610-584-1096,Media@HamiltonStrategies.com.

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