News

GPs urged to stay vigilant with patient data


Paul Hayes


6/06/2019 11:14:51 AM

The recent ANU data breach has prompted reminders of the importance of protecting patient information.

Practice staff at computer
The sensitivity of patient information means healthcare data can be especially valuable to hackers.

This week’s data breach at the Australian National University (ANU), in which an estimated 200,000 people were affected, was carried out by what has been described as ‘a sophisticated operator’.
 
Those same kinds of operators can also target healthcare data, including patient information stored within a general practice, according to the Dr Steven Kaye, Deputy Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management (REC–PTM).
 
‘Healthcare data is of particular value to hackers,’ Dr Kaye told newsGP.
 
‘The patient information held within a typical general practice is extremely sensitive and can be exploited in a number of ways, whether personal, financial or professional.’
 
It is for this reason, Dr Kaye said, that GPs and practice staff must always be vigilant about protecting their data.
 
‘Healthcare practitioners are in a unique position in that patients trust us with some of their most private information,’ he said. ‘We have a duty of care to ensure that data is locked down and kept safe from those who would misuse it.
 
‘None of this is news to GPs – we have long been aware that we have a responsibility to keep patient data safe – but with hackers becoming increasingly skilled and sophisticated, we need to make sure we stay vigilant and up to date with online safety.’
 
Resources
The RACGP offers a suite of resources to assist general practices in data protection:



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