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Lost Laptop with Patient Names, Treatment Summaries and Other PHI

Posted on June 21, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

This story coming out of Oregon came across my feeds today which tells of the Oregon Health and Science University contacting 1,000 patients after a physician’s laptop was stolen from a car parked at the doctor’s home.

This story made me think of two things:
1. Why is PHI being stored on the laptop in the first place? I wish I could find out if there was an EMR involved. If there was, then the EMR should be storing all of the patient information on the server and none of that data should be stored on the laptop. So, if it gets stolen there’s no breach. That’s the beauty of an EMR these days. There should be no need for this to happen.

2. There’s some really cool technology that’s been coming out in recent laptops that will allow you to remotely wipe out the laptop if it ever gets connected to a network. Basically, once your laptop is stolen you report it stolen and they start tracking it down kind of like they do with stolen cars (same people from what I understand).

Once the stolen laptop is connected to the network, it will call back to the main center and receive the command to wipe out the laptop. Then, it will also give them information about where it was connected in order for police to possibly recover the stolen laptop as well. We’re implementing this on all our new laptops. I’ll be very happy once we have them all with this feature.

A Misplaced Box of HIPAA Information

Posted on March 10, 2008 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today I found a really interesting article in Utah’s local paper the Deseret Morning News. In the story, a box of medical charts was lost by UPS after being sent from a Hospital to somewhere in Las Vegas for a medicare audit. You can read the article for all the facts, but essentially the box somehow got misdirected and ended up being bought by a Utah school teacher purchasing some “scrap” paper.

I was kind of surprised by how long it took the hospital to get in touch with UPS after the box was lost. Ok, so I’m not really surprised that the hospital is not watching all of the HIPAA information they sent out to make sure that it arrives safely, but maybe it should. UPS has some pretty incredible tracking tools these days that really aren’t that hard to use.

The other interesting thing to consider is how these types of audits/information transfer happens in an electronic world. I know that we transfer eligibility lists to insurance companies using Secure FTP and that works quite well. We’ve worked with a scanning company who is scanning our old paper charts and when we need to access one of those old records, they send us an encrypted file through email. That works pretty smoothly.

Unfortunately, I think if a patient wants a record right now or if we needed to send some health information out for an audit (not sure why we would need to) then we’d have to pretty much just print out the electronic record like we do when a patient makes a . In fact, we’ve even made a request to our EMR software company to give us a one click method that will allow us to print the entire chart. It’s a pain to print out everything in the paper chart from what’s scanned in, to prescriptions, to lab results, to referrals, etc etc etc. Any EMR companies have a better way to do this?