Health care providers using new data storage technology must also keep pace with advanced security measures. Electronic health records are likely to be hacked now more than ever, and insurance plans for data need to be considered. There is a need for additional effort on the electronic side of security. The big scandals of last year regarding Target and the Home Depot }have proved that digital attacks can result in major headlines. In fact, there have already been several attacks on health care organizations within the past couple of years.

Over 120 million people have had their information compromised due to breaches of their health data since 2009, according to the Washington Post, affecting more than one-third of the U.S. population. Most health care breaches are relatively small-scale, usuallyresulting from a stolen laptop or the improper disposal of paper records. However, recent ones have been much larger. Anthem's breach caused several million dollars of damage, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. More individuals can expect to feel the effects of these kinds of illegal record acquisitions in the oncoming months. 

Hackers are targeting medical information that can be captured by medical billing and coding systems, as they are more valuable in the long-term than credit card data. Credit cards can only be used for so long – eventually some party is alerted that they have been hacked or used. However, health records retain their value essentially indefinitely to those that want access to them, making them much more useful for criminals. What should organizations do in order to protect their consumers from the threat of EHR hacks?

Encryption and better security practices
Many U.S. states have passed data breach laws, which include expensive requirements for notifications of breaches for institutions. This has lead to a rise in the costs of a breach for companies. However, there are a few important ways to reduce the risk to a health care provider. The most critical of these is using encryption. Protecting EHRs enables health care providers to use the Safe Harbor Clause, which prevents organizations from having to disclose certain types of breaches. When data in encrypted, it is unreadable even if leaked without the proper pass phrase. So if someone manages to gain access to the files on a provider's servers, there's no guarantee they will actually be able to use them.

This is why many websites, such as Healthcare​ IT News, endorse the use of EHR encryption to protect files.  This reduces the amount of risk for health care providers and  allows these organizations to have it both ways – they get the ease and convenience of EHRs while maintaining a very high level of security. Of course, encryption is only one of the techniques taht should be used to keep records safe. Other elements are necessary as well. Proper security procedures and training are both necessary to ensure EHR safety.

There will be a continual re-evaluation of what kinds of measures are necessary to keep EHRs safe. However, it is unlikely that any organizations using them will switch back to older methods of storing data.  Using EHRs alongside medical billing and coding techniques results in massive gains in productivity. In order to take advantage of the fact that medical files are more easy to use, it is more important that groups are able to keep them safe. The march of progress is definitely on the side of the increased digitization of data, so understanding how to make it safer will be a question posed over the next couple years.