If you’ve dealt with the health care system recently you will have noticed a greater reliance on computer technology. Right from the visit in your doctor’s office to having an x-ray, health care is catching up to the rest of the world in the use of computer technology.
It’s an inevitable development, but after it was revealed this week 44 computers were released for recycling by eHealth Saskatchewan without first shredding the hard drives, also makes it a frightening development for patients concerned about the privacy of their records.
eHealth Saskatchewan is a Treasury Board Crown Corporation and it’s overriding mandate is the development of electronic health records.
The province says the computers were slated for recycling or reuse, and were accidentally released without protocol for protecting information on the hard drives being followed.
The press release says “approximately” 44 computers were released. That word alone is ominous. In a realm guided by extreme preciseness the very thought the organization isn’t exactly sure how many computers were shipped sends chills up the spine.
So far, 32 hard drives have been recovered. These are undergoing forensic analysis to determine if any personal health information was accessed after the computers were released. It isn’t clear what can be done about it if the information has been compromised. Getting such information back would be like trying to stuffing toothpaste back in the tube.
Again the word “about” is used to describe the 12, more or less, hard drives, still unaccounted for.
eHealth Saskatchewan’s CEO Susan Antosh says the matter is being taken seriously, saying existing procedures should have ensured the hard drives were removed before the computers were released.
As the investigation into why those procedures didn’t work progresses, we’re left wondering who has access to our health information and what nefarious use they might put it to.
We live in scary times.