The exploding black market in healthcare data

When medical records’ black market value is estimated at an average of $50 per record–94 percent of health care organizations have had at least one breach in the past two years–and 2 million Americans were medical identity theft victims in 2011–it’s one unpleasant ‘pointer to the future.’

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”150″ /]Data firm ID Experts studied a decade of data breaches and notes that medical data has become very attractive to professional hackers and cyber thieves. ID Experts’ full infographic.

  • First, there is so much of it with the increasing electronification of health data.
  • Second, so much of it resides on insecure or unsecured networks: smartphone, tablet, laptop.
  • Third, organizations and individuals still are only semi-conscious of fraud reality, and are negligent and sloppy when it comes to securing devices and over-reliance on the cloud without tight enterprise security. The new and underfunded health insurance ‘exchanges’ are particularly vulnerable as they, as well as other healthcare organizations, can over-rely on technology to protect data–which clever hackers can work around. Moreover, they can extract and sit on data till the trail goes cold. (Scroll down infographic to find out more). Also Ponemon Institute’s recent report in Healthcare Technology Online.

ID Experts’ study conclusions are reinforced by the California State Attorney General’s report that 55 percent of breaches “were intentional intrusions by outsiders or by unauthorized insiders” and that healthcare breaches were the third largest in reported incidents. A counter-measure may be the Medical ID Fraud Alliance, a collaboration in progress that is planned to include the Federal Trade Commission, the Secret Service and the Veterans Administration. More in (published by the American Medical Association)

Healthcare breaches due to criminal activity and plain error are becoming more common as well. All one has to do is bop over to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, click on ‘MED’ for healthcare and 2013 and check the frequency to date (113) of breaches both tiny and huge. (By comparison, full year 2012 totaled 224.) Our TTA ‘Into The Breach’ Awards go to:   (more…)

Health 2.0 Fall Conference 2013

29 September – 2 October 2013, Santa Clara (California) Convention Center

The 7th Annual Health 2.0 national conference will be held in the heart of Silicon Valley. It is 2 1/2 days and the ‘carefully curated lineup’ will feature the role of consumers, big data and health care marketplaces. The Health IT Startup Showcase is staged like ‘The Voice’, Tim Kelsey of NHS England is a speaker and the demo ‘bake-off’ Launch! is on Day 2, and Day 3 features Health 2.0 Around The World.  Information, agenda, registration link.

3millionlives and the EHR moneysuck (UK and US)

When editor Donna passed an item from iHealthBeat to me, her comment was “Just as the DOD and VA are fighting over systems, maybe VA can make a few pounds selling VistA to the NHS!” Well, it’s much more interesting than that!

The iHealthBeat item is about a £285,000 ($430,000) exchange programme – of “leaders, staff and ideas” – to see what people from NHS England and the Veterans Health Administration (VA) could learn from each other about digital records and technologies. (This follows the scandalously expensive collapse in 2011 of the NHS’s attempt to develop its own national electronic record system.) Digging around some more, we discover from an item by eHealthInsider that the exchange programme began as part of the 3millionlives (3ML) initiative to compare notes on telehealth monitoring. With 3ML now being incorporated into NHS England, we find that the extended remit of the exchange programme has relegated telehealth to what many seem regard as its proper place in the scheme of things – the sidelines.

Active & Healthy Ageing: EU cities and regions get star ratings

Despite the echos of star (reward) charts for children as recommended by Supernanny, the issuing of stars by the European Commission to cities in recognition of developing ways of helping older people is probably a Good Thing. It provides a mechanism for recognition of good practice and a means of promoting healthy competition. It also means that, in order to rate the cities, someone somewhere has to have a vision of what is ultimately possible. There are six categories of innovation in the EU’s ratings: medication adherence, fall prevention, frailty and malnutrition, integrated care, independent living and age-friendly environments. Good examples have been noted from Andalusia, Scotland, the Basque region and Portugal. There are details in the press release. Moreover, it is not just about recognising good practice it is about sharing it via a Digital Market Place for Innovative Ideas. Perhaps the rating process holds some ideas for NHS England as it wonders how to promote telehealth. Hat tip to Bob Pyke.

New home for 3millionlives (UK)

Back in May we wondered if it might not be time for the 3ML initiative to be “moved to a new home” But this week’s low-key 3ML announcement (undated) that it has moved (from where it used to couch surf, with the Telecare Services Association) to a new home within NHS England’s Medical Directorate* leaves one wondering whether the also desired “reinvigorated and regenerated” will come about.

The move seems to confirm the widely held suspicion that, despite assurances about 3ML including telecare, it is really about telehealth. This is reinforced in the language of the announcement which is quick to reference clinicians. But how will NHS England get the ‘real’ NHS to adopt telehealth in practice? By being “a true partnership and synergy within NHS England” of course! [Glad to see, by the way, that it will be “delivered going forward”, not delivered backwards!]

We wonder too whether NHS England will continue to accept funding from 3ML’s private company partners. If it does not, it will not be the 3ML partnership originally envisioned and if it does, it could become a political embarrassment.

Has 3ML just been hit from the sandpit of the bunker into the long grass of the rough?

* “The English NHS is controlled by the UK government through the Department of Health (DH), which takes political responsibility for the service. Resource allocation and oversight was delegated to NHS England, an arms-length body, by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.” Wikipedia.

DocCom now on procurement framework agreement (UK)

DocCom, which we reported in February, has developed hospital-based social networking software and has been awarded a grant of £207,000 by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to accelerate its development, has now been put on the UK Government’s latest cloud procurement framework for cloud-based services, G-Cloud iii. Procurement frameworks make it quicker and easier for organisations such as NHS bodies to place orders with preferred providers because they do not have to apply the governance disciplines, or incur the costs, of competitive tendering each time. Press release.

Saypage Telehealth introduced at West Suffolk Hospital (UK)

When this editor worked for the NHS in West Suffolk – long, long ago – my colleagues and I always denied the saying that West Suffolk was ‘the graveyard of ambition’, and we pointed to numerous innovations that we introduced without fanfare into our various fields. So it is pleasing to see that the tradition appears to be continuing. The following press release describes the introduction of a hospital-to-home internet-based video link system to reduce the need for some orthopaedic patients to attend hospital to receive post-operative follow-up consultations. Significantly, it appears to be a development championed by an enthusiastic hospital consultant. We have seen over and over again that technological solutions to care pathway problems work best when they are adopted from the ground up. West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Launches Virtual Orthopaedics Outpatients Clinic Built On Saypage Telemedicine Platform. (Saypage press release) [Will the people who use the system be counted towards the 3millionlives (3ML) target? Oh! Silly me! No one is counting anything, and it’s an aspiration, not a target!]

Related links: What is Saypage Telehealth? and Saypage User Guide.

NHS Choices Apps Library

If you Google ‘NHS Apps Library’ the early results that come back after those to the library itself are predominantly from US publications. Perhaps we in the UK under-appreciate the potential benefits. The reason I mention this is that while TTA has given the Apps Library a couple of passing mentions during the past month or two, we have not – as one sharp eyed reader pointed out – given it the attention it deserves. So, by way of amends, here are some relevant links:

Mysteriously, the 12 apps recommended in the following enthusiastic US article: UK NHS launches 12 patient decision support apps do not seem to be listed in the library. Perhaps the author mistakes the BMJ for the NHS, or perhaps they are published or endorsed by a different part of the NHS…

I’ll be happy to take recommendations for links to good articles on the Library. Ed. Steve.

Northamptonshire NHS contracts for video consultation service (UK)

The Saypage Telehealth Platform looks like an interesting addition to the number of companies providing video conferencing services to health services in the UK but the company’s announcement would get a warmer welcome from us if were not for its classic hype-it-up press release. Just because one NHS Trust has contracted for the service does not justify the implied claim that the whole NHS is rolling it out. NHS Launches Online Video Consultations Service Using Saypage Telehealth Platform. The lesson for all suppliers is to keep it real if you do not want to undermine readers’ respect.

Two more useful – Simple Telehealth – items for GPs (UK)

Nearly a month ago we posted links to GP Online two articles written by Professor Ruth Chambers for UK GPs about practical ways to use the NHS Simple Telehealth system–aka Florence or Flo. They covered hypertension and inhaler use. Now we discover two further articles, oddly, on a different part of the site. They follow the same useful pattern as the earlier ones. They are:

  • Adopting remote monitoring via telehealth in your CCG’s practices – part 3: smoking cessation
  • Adopting remote monitoring via telehealth in your CCG’s practices – part 4: weight loss