Paper health records and massive filing cabinets stuffed with patient files are a thing of the past. The advent of electronic health records has allowed doctors offices and hospitals to transition from keeping enormous warehouses of paper records to keeping all of their patient information in online servers that can be easily accessed by any connected device. It's not a perfect system -- EHR's can be difficult to access, and they don't provide network-wide connectivity because of security issues. However, they can allow doctors and specialists at outlying locations to access a patient's record without the necessity of getting copies or relying on outdated fax machines to provide necessary information.
At many doctors' offices and hospitals, a routine part of doing business these days is estimating patients' out-of-pocket payments and trying to collect it up front. Eyeing retailers' practice of keeping credit card information on file, "there's certainly been a movement by health care providers to store some of this information and be able to access it with patients' permission," said Mark Rukavina, a principal at Community Health Advisors in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, who works with hospitals on addressing financial barriers to care.
Increasing incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) has prompted the public health and technology communities to innovate new measures to understand how individuals use Internet resources to attain relevant information, particularly for sensitive or stigmatized conditions. The purpose of this study is to examine recent health information seeking and needs of the r/STD community, a subreddit focused exclusively on STDs. We found that the majority of posts crowdsource information about intermediate, non-reportable STDs such as human papillomavirus (HPV). Crowdsourced information in this community focused on symptoms, treatment, as well as the social and emotional aspects of sexual health such as fear of misdiagnosis. From our analysis, it is clear that online communities focused on discussion of health symptoms have the ripe potential to influence information-seeking behavior and consumer action.
As for the bad actors, Stacy Stevens, unit chief of the cyber division at the FBI, says those range from foreign nation states to criminals in the U.S., and include those seeking to leverage personal patient information they access. "If I know everything about you, I can target you," Steven notes, regarding a common motive of hackers seeking to access health data. And those seeking to break health institution's cybersecurity aren't just attempting to access patient information. For example, animal research can open up organizations to being the targets of "hacktivism," she adds.