Health data security fears rife in Australia: SOTI

SOTI Inc. Australia

Wednesday, 27 March, 2019

Health data security fears rife in Australia: SOTI

Australians are increasingly concerned about the security of their health records and personal information, a new SOTI survey shows.

The research, which surveyed 501 people, suggests that the main concern for Australians around health information safety is not knowing who has access to their private information (61.68%), followed by security/data breaches (47.11%) and misuse of information (45.91%).

People are not even sure of who is responsible for the safety of their health information, with 61.68% believing the government is responsible, 61.08% believing individual health providers are responsible and 39.32% believing they themselves are responsible for the information.

“There is clearly a lot of confusion amongst Australians when it comes to the security of personal health information,” said Michael Dyson, Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, SOTI.

“This is not helped by the fact that people are very unclear who is actually responsible for keeping their health information private and protected.”

This lack of clarity is also reflected in individuals’ feelings about the My Health Record system, which was rolled out in Australia earlier this year.

While 49.50% of those surveyed felt that they understood the benefits of My Health Record, only 39.12% support it, with everyone else surveyed either stating they do not support it, that they had opted out or that they didn’t have an opinion on how they feel about My Health Record.

“While My Health Record has been designed to support patients, by helping them access their personal health information when and where they need it, and to be able to be share this information with healthcare providers, there is still distrust and confusion towards the system,” said Dyson.

“This mistrust is leading to an increased focus on data security within the healthcare sector as it becomes more reliant on mobile devices that record and hold patients’ private health information.”

A key factor in overcoming the Australian public’s concerns around the safety of their personal health information is healthcare providers making every effort to ensure the data they record and share via mobile devices is secure and protected at all times.

However, survey results revealed that over 40% of Australians did not have confidence that their healthcare provider has the right data security measures in place for the mobile devices that healthcare workers use.

Important to increasing the confidence of Australians is healthcare providers having a mobility solution in place that could wipe and lock devices remotely, enforce data encryption and require device passcodes. This is supported by over 49% of people, who stated they would feel more comfortable with this in place.

“Over one-third of those surveyed said that they would choose to withhold information due to their concerns about their healthcare provider’s ability to protect data, which is rather concerning as we don’t want patients risking their own health due to these concerns,” said Dyson.

“Healthcare providers need to have mobile device management solutions in place, so they are positioned to reassure patients that their information is secure and safe.”

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