Mobile devices make it easier to store, share and steal medical records

MassDevice On Call

MASSDEVICE ON CALL — Patient medical records are harder to keep safe when they’re stored on mobile devices like iPads and smartphones, but it’s not because of an innate vulnerability in mobile platforms – it’s because they’re easier to steal.

More than 116 cases of data breaches that exposed at least 500 patient records resulting from loss or theft were reported in less than two years, according to a Dept. of Health & Human report spanning Sept. 22, 2009, to May 8, 2011.

More than 1.9 million patient records were collectively exposed through those incidents, EMR Daily News reported.

The news validates the mantra that software hackers aren’t the real threat when it comes to digital patient records. Physical theft and loss account for more than 60 percent of all security breaches involving medical records in HHS investigations (only incidents that expose 500 records or more were reported).

Hacking, like the recent software virus that exposed more than 2,000 patient records at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, made up 6 percent of reported incidents.

"HIPPA violations aren’t happening in the cloud. Rather, they’re happening in the doctor’s office, hospital IT closets, cars, subways, and homes," Software Advice wrote.

Health care mergers and acquisitions break the bank in Q2

The health sector posted a record-breaking quarter for mergers and acquisitions in Q2, with 243 deals valued at 73.7 billion, a 6 percent increase from the first quarter in 2011 and up 3 percent from the same time last year, Fierce Health Finance reported.

The deals soared 44 percent higher than the $51.1 billion in mergers and acquisitions in Q1 this year, and up 61 percent from the $45.7 in deals in Q2 2010.

"As far as dollar volume is concerned, M&A activity is on track to break all previous records in this market," officials at Irving Levin Associates stated in their report.

Venture capital investment ups and down in Q2

Investment levels in the year’s second quarter ended June 30 finally rose above pre-recession levels, according to a survey by national venture capital firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The $7.5 billion invested across 966 deals last quarter was a 18.7 percent uptick over Q1’s $6.3 billion in investments spread across 814 deals, and a 5 percent increase in dollars over $7.2 billion for 998 deals in the second quarter 2010, Xconomy reported.

Medical devices and biotech made up $2.08 billion of that pie for 206 deals, a 37 percent increase over Q1 but a 2.7 percent decline from Q2 2010.

Kerry and Kohl: No more imaging cuts

Senior Massachusetts senator John Kerry (D) and  Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) drafted a letter to President Barack Obama in defense of Medicare imaging reimbursements, which have been on the chopping block as health care spending cuts make their way through legislature.

"These cuts are stifling this home-grown medical innovation and leaving seniors and disabled Americans without access to the care they need to diagnose and treat life-threatening diseases," they wrote in the letter, noting that reimbursements for medical imaging have been cut seven times since 2006, often leaving payments at less than half of their original value.

"The problem is exacerbated in rural areas, as a single practice closure often means patients are suddenly hours away from the services they need to diagnose and treat a serious illness," the senators added.

A little bit of operating-room courtesy goes a long way

A surgeon’s behavior in the operating room can affect patient outcomes, health costs, medical errors and employee and patient morale, according to an article published in the journal Archives of Surgery this month.

The article cites several studies that indicate surgeon civility is tied to post-operative deaths and complications, nursing staff turnover and even the number of sick days taken by hospital personnel.

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