The paper will be 4-5 pages 
Each paper must be typewritten with 12-point font and double-spaced with
standard margins. Follow APA format
For this assignment you are encourage generating a Security
Plan and implemented in a Health Care Facility of your choosing.
Work with your EHR vendor(s) to let them know that
protecting patient health information and meeting your HIPAA privacy and
security responsibilities regarding electronic health information in your EHR
is one of your major goals. Involve your practice staff and any other partners that
you have to help streamline this process.
This Information Security Management Plan
(ISMP) describes the ACE’s safeguards to protect confidential data and
The Information Security core policy
concepts are maintained in the Privacy, Confidentiality and Security of Patient
Proprietary Information Policy and the Computer Use and Electronic Information
Security Policy.  These policies are
reviewed every 2 years.
3.  ACCESS CONTROL: (20%):
Access to confidential information must
follow the “need to know” guideline. Only those employees who have a business
need to know the information shall have permission to utilize the data. Each
employee is assigned a user name and password. Each employee is trained on
developing a secure password. Passwords must be changed according to Password
Security Policy.
The ACE has established policies and
procedures which clearly define where data can be stored and how the data stored
on media is to be protected.  The ACE
highly discourages storage of data on any medium except for storage on network
drives within the secured data center. 
However, in the case where data cannot be stored in the data center it
must be stored on an encrypted medium.
The ACE has multiple data centers. 
Evaluation will be based on how clearly you respond to the
above, in particular:
a) The precision with which you analyses the articles;
b) The complexity, possibility, and organization of your
paper; and,
c) Your conclusions, including a description of the impact
of these articles and Chapters on any Health Care Setting.
Information Security and Privacy in Healthcare:
Current State of Research1
Ajit Appari (
M. Eric Johnson (
Center for Digital Strategies
Tuck School of Business
Dartmouth College, Hanover NH
Information security and privacy in the healthcare sector is an issue of growing importance. The
adoption of digital patient records, increased regulation, provider consolidation, and the increasing
need for information between patients, providers, and payers, all point towards the need for better
information security. We critically survey the research literature on information security and
privacy in healthcare, published in both information systems, non-information systems disciplines
including health informatics, public health, law, medicine, and popular trade publications and
reports. In this paper, we provide a holistic view of the recent research and suggest new areas of
interest to the information systems community.
Keywords: Information Security, Privacy, Healthcare, Research Literature.
August 2008
This research was supported through the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College, under awards 60NANB6D6130 from
the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Department of Homeland Security under Grant Award Number 2006-CS-001-000001. The
statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. Department of Commerce, or U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Recent government initiatives envision adoption of a universal electronic health record (EHR) by all health
maintenance organizations (HMO) by year 2014 (Goldschmidt 2005). Healthcare information systems are largely
viewed as the single most important factor in improving US healthcare quality and reducing related costs. According
to a recent RAND study, the US could potentially save $81B annually by moving to EHR system (Hillestad et al.
2005). Yet information technology (IT) spending in healthcare sector trails that of many other industries, typically in
3-5% of revenue, far behind industries like financial services where closer to 10% are the norm (Bartels 2006).
Anecdotal evidences from recent years suggest lack of adequate security measures has resulted in numerous data
breaches, leaving patients exposed to economic threats, mental anguish, and possible social stigma (Health Privacy
Project 2007). A recent survey in the United States suggests that 75% of patients are concerned about health Web
sites sharing information without their permission (Raman 2007). Possibly this is because medical data disclosure is
the second highest reported breach (Hasan and Yurcik 2006).
Researchers, mainly in information systems, have adapted several reference disciplines such as psychology and
sociology to analyze the role of individuals and employees in information security risk management (Dhillon and
Backhouse 2001; Straub and Collins 1990; Straub and Welke 1998; Vaast 2007; Baker et al. (2007)) and economics
to characterize investment decisions and information governance (Cauvsoglu et al. 2004; 2005; Gordon and Loeb
2002; Khansa and Liginlal 2007; Kumar et 2007; Zhao and Johnson (2008)) Despite this growing stream of research
on information security, very limited research has focused on studying information security risks in healthcare
sector, which is heavily regulated and calls upon business models quite different from other industries.
Since Anderson‘s seminar work on security in healthcare information systems (Anderson 1996), scholars have
examined the information security problem in different ways. In this paper, we review the current state of
information security and privacy research in healthcare, covering various research methodologies such as design
research, qualitative research and quantitative research. Our review illuminates the multifaceted research streams,
each focusing on special dimensions of information security and privacy. For example, on one hand, a large body of
research focuses on developing technological solutions for ensuring privacy of patients when their information is
stored, processed, and shared. On the other hand, several researchers have examined the impact of Health
information technology adoption on care quality. Additionally, the enactment of the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act (HIPAA) and emergence of web-based healthcare applications has turned researchers‘ attention
towards patient as well provider perspectives on HIPAA. Surprisingly, very limited attention has been given to the
financial risks, especially those arising from medical identity theft and healthcare fraud.
The rest of the paper is structured as follows. First we present a general view of information privacy and security in
healthcare, briefly discussing HIPAA and the evolving threat landscape. Next we identify several research domains
that we use to classify the literature. Building on this classification, we summarize the literature focusing on key
application areas of information security in healthcare. Finally, we conclude by identifying future research
Background of Health Information Privacy and Security
Privacy is an underlying governing principle of the patient – physician relationship for effective delivery of
healthcare. Patients are required to share information with their physicians to facilitate correct diagnosis and
determination of treatment, especially to avoid adverse drug interactions. However patients may refuse to divulge
important information in cases of health problems such as psychiatric behavior and HIV as their disclosure may lead
to social stigma and discrimination (Applebaum 2002). Over time, a patient‘s medical record accumulates
significant personal information including identification, history of medical diagnosis, digital renderings of medical
images, treatment received, medication history, dietary habits, sexual preference, genetic information, psychological
profiles, employment history, income, and physicians‘ subjective assessments of personality and mental state among
others (Mercuri 2004).
The figure 1 shows a typical information flow in the healthcare system. Patient health records could serve a range of
purposes apart from diagnosis and treatment provision.
For example, information could be used to improve
efficiency within healthcare system, drive public policy development and administration at state and federal level,
and in the conduct of research to advance medical science (Hodge 2003). A patient‘s medical records are also shared
with payer organizations such as insurance, Medicare or Medicaid to justify payment of services rendered by
physicians. Healthcare providers may use records to manage their operations, to assess service quality, and to
identify quality improvement opportunities. Furthermore, providers may share health information through a regional
health information organization to facilitate care services. Medical information of patients is also used for common
good through federal and state government interventions regarding public health management, hospital
accreditation, medical research, and for managing social and welfare systems.
Figure 1: A Graphical View of Information Flow in the Health Care System
Extended Enterprise
Health Bank (personal health
Health Vault (Microsoft)
Google Health, etc.
Health Plans
Private Insurance,
Primary Provider
Home Healthcare & Hospice
Nursing homes
Institutional services
(Military, prisons, schools)
Secondary Provider
Regional Health
Information Organizations
Business Associates
Social Uses of Health Data
Public Policy
Disaster response,
Disease control,
Fraud Control,
Law enforcement & Investigation,
Medical & Social Research
National Health Information Network
Credential & Evaluative Decisions
Education, etc.
Health Information Privacy Regulations
In the last four decades, the US healthcare industry has undergone revolutionary changes, driven by advances in
information technology and legislation such as the 1973 Health Maintenance Organizations Act. As personal health
information is digitized, transmitted and mined for effective care provision, new forms of threat to patients‘ privacy
are becoming evident. In view of these emerging threats and the overarching goal of providing cost effective
healthcare services to all citizens, several important federal regulations have been enacted including the Privacy and
Security Rules under HIPAA (1996) and State Alliance for eHealth (2007).
HIPAA was enacted to reform health insurance practices as a step towards moving to a nationwide electronic health
records system and standardizing information transactions. The goal was to reduce costs by simplifying the
administrative processes to provide continuity of care services.. The technology component involved in managing
health information and necessity of disclosure to third parties has led to stipulations of privacy compliance and
provision of security safeguards under HIPAA (Mercury 2004). The Privacy Rule of HIPAA addresses the use and
disclosure of a patient‘s protected health information by healthcare plans, medical providers, and clearinghouses,
also referred as ―covered entities‖. By virtue of their contact with patients, covered entities are the primary agents of
capturing a patient‘s health information for a variety of purposes including treatment, payment, managing healthcare
operations, medical research, and subcontracting (Choi et al. 2006). The Security Rule of HIPAA requires covered
entities to ensure implementation of administrative safeguards in the form of policies and personnel, physical
safeguards to information infrastructure, and technical safeguards to monitor and control intra and inter
organizational information access (ibid.)
Apart from HIPAA, by 2007, nearly 60 Health IT related laws have been enacted in 34 states, plus the District of
Columbia (RTI 2007). Moreover, the US Congress has been considering various new legislation including ―Health
Information Privacy and Security Act‖ (US Congress 2007a), ―National Health Information Technology and Privacy
Advancement Act of 2007‖ (US Congress 2007b), and ―Technologies for Restoring Users‘ Security and Trust in
Health Information Act of 2008‖ (US Congress 2008). This new legislation is intended to improve the privacy
protection offered under previous regulations by creating incentives to de-identify health information for purposes
necessary, establishing health information technology and privacy systems, bringing equity to healthcare provision,
and increasing private enterprise participation in patient privacy.
Threats to Information Privacy
Threats to patient privacy and information security could be categorized into two broad areas: (1) Organizational
threats that arise from inappropriate access of patient data by either internal agents abusing their privileges or
external agents exploiting vulnerability of information systems, and (2) Systemic threats that arise from an agent in
the information flow chain exploiting the disclosed data beyond its intended use (NRC 1997).
Organizational Threats: may assume different forms, such as an employee who accesses data without any
legitimate need or an outside attacker (hacker) that infiltrates organization‘s information infrastructure to steal data
or render it inoperable. At the outset, these organizational threats could be characterized by four components –
motives, resources, accessibility, and technical capability (NRC 1997). Depending on these components, different
threats may pose different level of risk to organization requiring different mitigation and prevention strategies.
Motives could be both of economic or noneconomic nature. For some, such as insurers, employers, and journalists,
patient records may have economic value, while others may have noneconomic motives such as a person involved in
romantic relationship. These attackers may have resources ranging from modest financial backing and computing
skills to a well-funded infrastructure to threaten a patient as well as the operations of a healthcare organization. The
attackers may require different types of access to carry out their exploits, such as access to the site, system
authorization, and data authorization (See table 1 for hypothetical examples for level of access). In addition, threats
could depend on technical capability of attackers who may be novice or sophisticated programmers. Moreover, with
the growing underground cyber economy (Knapp and Boulton 2006), an individual with the intent to acquire data
and possessing adequate financial resources may be able to buy services of sophisticated hackers to breach
healthcare data.
Recent studies suggest that the broad spectrum of organizational threats could be categorized into five levels, in the
increasing order of sophistication (NRC 1997; Rindfleisch 1997):
Accidental disclosure: healthcare personnel unintentionally disclose patient information to others, e.g.
email message sent to wrong address or an information leak through peer-to-peer file sharing.
Insider curiosity: an insider with data access privilege pries upon a patient‘s records out of curiosity or for
their own purpose, e.g. a nurse accessing information about a fellow employee to determine possibility of
sexually transmitted disease in colleague; or medical personnel accessing potentially embarrassing health
information about a celebrity and transmitting to media.
Data breach by insider: insiders who access patient information and transmit to outsiders for profit or
taking revenge on patient.
Data breach by outsider with physical intrusion: an outsider who enters the physical facility either by
coercion or forced entry and gains access to system.
Unauthorized intrusion of network system : an outsider, including former vengeful employees, patients, or
hackers who intrude into organization‘s network system from outside and gain access to patient
information or render the system inoperable.
Table 1: Likely Combinations of Access Privileges in Healthcare Data Breach [source:
NRC 1997]
Level of Access
Outside Attacker
Site only
Maintenance worker
Site and System
Employee in the billing department who has access to
information systems but not to clinical information
Data and System
Vendor or consultant with remote access privileges
Site, System, and Data
Care provider such as doctor or nurse
Systemic Threats: Etzioni (1999), in discussing the ‗Limits to Privacy‘, makes a strong case that a major threat to
patient privacy occurs not from outside of the information flow chain in healthcare industry but from insiders who
are legally privileged to access patient information. For example, insurance firms may deny life insurance to patients
based on their medical conditions, or an employer having access to employees‘ medical records may deny
promotion, or worse, terminate employment. Patients and /or payer organizations may incur financial losses as a
result of malpractices including upcoding of diagnoses, and rendering of medically unnecessary services.
In summary, healthcare information systems could be subjected to security threats from one or more sources
including imposter agents, unauthorized use of resources, unauthorized disclosure of information, unauthorized
alteration of resources, and unauthorized denial of service (Win et al. 2006). Denial-of-service attacks via Internet
worms or viruses, equipment malfunctions arising from file deletion or corrupted data, and the lack of contingency
plans pertaining to offsite backup, data restoration procedures, and similar activities may also trigger HIPAA
violations (Mercuri 2004).
State of Information Security Research in Healthcare
In this sections, we present a comprehensive review of information security literature in healthcare sector (refer to
appendix 1 for categorization of articles reviewed in this paper). For this survey of information security literature,
we conducted a multidisciplinary search in a diverse set of publications from a range of fields including information
systems, health informatics, public health, medicine, and law. Furthermore, we searched for articles in popular trade
publications and reports as well. Figure 2 shows the link between many important healthcare research problems and
information security. For example, a significant body of research examines the impact of IT investments on quality
improvement, in particular the reduction of medical errors. This body of research has a noteworthy overlap with
information security research since medical errors arising from erroneous data entry or unwarranted data
manipulation/ obfuscation may lead to future potential risks. Another stream of research focuses on introduction of
personal health record (PHR) technology which offers patients direct control over their health records. Scholars
focusing on privacy and information security aspects of PHR are examining important privacy concerns such as
information disclosure in the online PHR systems. We will use Figure 2 throughout our review to highlight the link
between security research and other large streams of research.
It is noteworthy that past research has used diverse range of research methodologies, including design research,
qualitative research and quantitative research. Design research focuses on developing artifacts such as models,
algorithms, prototypes, and frameworks to solve specific information system problems (Hevner et al. 2004). In
healthcare information security research, we find articles focusing on technological solutions for maintaining
patients privacy in the wired and wireless network of a provider organization, (authorized) disclosure of patient data
for secondary usage such as academic research, and data sharing in a network of providers among others (e.g., Dong
and Dulay 2006; Malin 2007; Malin and Arioldi 2007). Qualitative research involves examining a social
phenomenon using a range of qualitative instruments/ data such as interviews, documents, participants‘ observation
data, researcher‘s observation and impression (Myers 1997). In healthcare research, most of the qualitative research
centers around impact of HIPAA regulation on healthcare practices (e.g. Ferreira, et al. 2006; Hu, et al. 2006; Terry
and Francis 2007). Lastly, healthcare information systems research have adopted several quantitative methods
including survey based research, econometric analysis, and statistical modeling among others in the areas of
patients‘ privacy concern, public policy, fraud control, risk management, and impact of health information
technology on medical errors (Bansal, et al. 2007; Koppel, et al. 2005; Miller and Tucker 2008, Rosenberg 2001a,b).
Figure 2: Research Domains in the Healthcare Information Security
•Data Interoperability [D], [QL]
•Regulatory Implications to Health Practice/
Technology Adoption, [QN], [QL]
•Secured Data Disclosure (Data truncation,
Data anonymization, etc. ) [D]
Public Policy
•Medical research
•Judicial Process & Law enforcement,
•National health information network
•Social welfare programs,
•Disaster response/ Disease control
•Pricing of health services
•Personal health record management
•Clinical trial participation
•Personal disposition to data disclosure
Information Security
Inter-Organizational Productivity
and Quality
•Access Control, [D]
•Data Interoperability, [D], [QL]
•Fraud Control [QN], [QL]
•Health Services Subcontracting
•Integrated healthcare systems
•Billing & payment efficacy
•Privacy Concern, [QN], [QL]
•Financial Risk, [QL]
•Medical Identity Theft [QL]
Intra-Organizational Productivity and
•Impact of IT (e.g. CPOE, Clinical decision
support system) on medical errors
•RFID deployment in medication administration
•Risk analysis and assessment
•Telemedicine / eHealth
•Pervasive Computing Technology in healthcare
•Operations management
•Access Control, [D]
•Data Manipulation/ Modification/
Obfuscation, [QN], [QL]
•Privacy Policy Management, [QL]
•Risk Management, [QN], [QL]
[D]: Design Research; [QL]: Qualitative Research ; [QN]: Quantitative Research
Privacy Concern among Healthcare Consumers
A significant body research has examined the perception of privacy concern from viewpoint of a special class of
patients, including mental health patients, seekers of HIV testing, and adolescents. In a recent survey of past
research on healthcare confidentiality, Sankar et al. (2003) make four overarching conclusions. First, patients
strongly believe that their information should be shared only with people involved in their care. Second, patients do
identify with the need of information sharing among physicians, though HIV patients are less likely to approve
sharing of their health information. Third, many patients who agree to information sharing among physicians reject
the notion of releasing information to third parties including employers and family members. Lastly, the majority of
patients who have undergone genetic testing believe that patients should bear the responsibility of revealing test
results to at-risk family members.
This extensive body of research reviewed in Sankar et al. (2003) mostly considered the use of identifiable or
potentially identifiable information to other relevant entities including employers, families, and third parties.
However, very limited research has examined patients‘ perception on sharing of anonymized health records, perhaps
with exception of more recent studies that examine patients perception about consent to health information use for
other than their own care (Bansal, et al. 2007; Campbell, et al. 2007). Bansal et al. (2007), on the one hand,
developed a set of constructs based on utility theory and prospect theory as antecedents of trust formation and
privacy concern that impact users‘ personal disposition to disclose their health information to online health services
websites. In particular, this study reported that user‘s current health status, personality traits, culture, and prior
experience with websites and online privacy invasions play a major role in user‘s trust in the health website and their
degree of privacy concerns. On the other hand, Campbell, et al (2007), in a mail based survey with adult patients in
England, found that about 28% to 35% of patients are neutral to their health information – such as age, gender,
ethnicity, reason for treatment, medical history, personal habits impacting health, type of treatment obtained, side
effects of treatment – being used by physicians for other purpose. Only about 5–21% of patients, however, expected
to be asked for permission to use their information by their physicians. Similarly only about 10% of the patients
expected to be asked for permission if their doctors use their health information for a wide variety of purposes
including, combining data with other patients‘ data to provide better information to future patients, sharing how the
treatment is working with other physicians in the hospital, teaching medical professionals, and writing research
articles about diseases and treatments.
In another study, Angst, et al. (2006) investigated divergence of perception among patients toward different types of
personal health record systems, including paper based, personal computer based, memory devices, portal and
networked PHR, which are in the increasing order of technological advancement. The study found that patient‘s
relative perception of privacy and security concern increased with the level of technology, e.g. relative security and
privacy concern for networked PHR is twice that of memory device based PHR. Technologically advanced PHR
systems were found to be favored by highly educated patients.
Providers’ Perspective of Regulatory Compliance
HIPAA compliance has become a business necessity in healthcare maintenance organizations (HMO). Recently
Warkentin et al. (2006) undertook a study to characterize the compliance behavior among administrative staff and
medical staff of public as well private-sector healthcare facilities. The authors observed that healthcare professionals
at public hospitals have higher self efficacy, i.e. belief in their capability to safeguard and protect patient‘s
information privacy, compared to their counterparts in private healthcare facilities. Further, on average,
administrative staff exhibited higher self efficacy than medical staff across both public and private healthcare
facilities. Moreover, the behavioral intent of healthcare professionals, including medical and administrative staff,
was positively correlated to self efficacy and perceived organizational support. Another set of studies show that
healthcare workers, having access to patient data, are highly concerned about maintaining accuracy of patient
records, unauthorized access to patient data, and believe that patient data should not be used for unrelated purposes
except for medical research (Baumer, et al. 2000),
Patients‘ health information plays a major role in conducting medical research for improving healthcare quality.
However, disclosure of health information to researchers raises concerns of privacy violations. Regulations such as
HIPAA allow healthcare provider organizations to disclose otherwise protected health information to researchers
only if they have obtained consent from patients or in exceptional cases on approval from an Institutional Review
Board (IRB). Anecdotal evidence suggests that the new regulatory requirements have had an adverse effect on the
conduct of medical research (e.g. Kaiser 2004; 2006; Turner 2002).
In a nationwide web-based survey of
epidemiologists Ness (2007) report that nearly 68% of researchers perceived that HIPAA made medical research
highly difficult and only about 25% believed that it has increased patients‘ confidentiality or privacy. More
importantly, about 39% of researchers believed HIPAA had increased research cost by a great deal, especially due to
additional compliance related administrative cost and about 51% of researchers believed HIPAA enforcement lead
to inadvertent delays in research. In a critical review of three cases of health research projects, Shen et al. (2006)
report that the complexity of consent forms and privacy protection forms, time consuming and cost amplifying
procedures often get in the way of patient recruitment. The authors recommend simplifying the language of privacy
and consent forms to facilitate easier comprehension by patients. Furthermore, if breach of confidentiality is a
primary risk and the quality of the project could be affected from reduced participation, the authors suggest a viable
option would be to discard the consent process and instead include a statement on potential use of PHI in Notice of
Privacy Practices allowing patients to make choices based on privacy notice. This adverse view of HIPAA is also
reflected in lower adoption rate of health information systems such as EMR bolstering the perception that privacy
laws may actually have negative effect on the ulterior goals of providing quality care at low cost. Recently, Miller
and Tucker (2007) examined data on enactment of state privacy laws regulating health information disclosure across
the US and the adoption rates of EMR They found that hospitals in states with privacy laws were 33% less likely to
adopt an EMR system compatible with other neighboring hospitals. However, in states with no privacy laws, they
found that a hospital‘s adoption of EMR may increase the likelihood of neighboring hospital adopting EMR by
about 6 percent. Without other incentives, this adverse effect may hinder the federal goal of an interoperable
national health network by year 2014.
The quality of administrative capabilities in managing access control to healthcare information systems has an
impact on administrative cost, user downtime between administrative events, and the ability of users to perform their
roles (Hu et al. 2006). Among various business applications, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems is often
considered as one of major software applications that could streamline the business process of healthcare facilities
(Jenkins and Christenson 2001). This is especially true if it can combine patient information and financial
information into one complete record, eliminating the need of redundant data entry and facilitating clinical decision
making. However, many ERP systems require customization to ensure HIPAA compliance. Pumphrey et al. (2007)
recommend that organizations establish comprehensive policies for privacy and security management, and ensure
that technology vendors address these policies in the software.
Information Access Control
Modern healthcare systems are large networked systems managing patient data with a multitude of users accessing
health data for diverse contextual purposes within and across organizational boundaries. Role Based Access Control
(RBAC), originally developed to manage access to resources in a large computer network (Ferraiolo and Kuhn
1992; Sandhu et al. 1996), is generally presented as an effective tool to manage data access in healthcare industry
because of its ability to implement and manage a wide range of access control policies based on complex role
hierarchies commonly found in healthcare organizations (Gallaher et al. 2002). This stream of research primarily
focuses on developing algorithms and frameworks to facilitate role based information access (e.g. Li and Tripunitara
2006; Motta and Furuie 2003), and contextual access control (Covington et al. 2000; Motta and Furuie 2003).
Schwartmann (2004) extends this stream of research by proposing an enhanced RBAC system that incorporates
attributable roles and permissions. This enhanced system implementation is theorized to reduce the burden of
managing access privileges by lowering extremely high number of permissions and roles to a manageable size and
hence reducing administrative cost. In addition progress is being made in several fronts, including use of
autonomous agents to create privacy-aware healthcare applications (Tentori et al. 2006), authorization policy
framework for peer-to-peer technology based distributed healthcare system (Al-nayadi and Abawajy 2007),
encrypted bar code technology framework for electronic transfer of prescription (Ball et al. 2003), pseudonymous
linkage (Reidl et al. 2007), and electronic consent models that allows patients to define which component of a
medical record could be shared to whom (O‘Keefe et al. 2005; Nepal et al. 2006).
Despite significant progress in technological solutions to information access control, operationalization remains a
major challenge (Lovis, et al. 2007). Healthcare organizations, because of the complex nature of data access for
diverse purposes, often give broader access privileges and adopt ‗Break the Glass‘ (BTG) policy to facilitate timely
and effective care. Røstad and Edsburg (2006), for example, report that 99% of doctors were given overriding
privileges while only 52% required overriding rights on regular basis, the security mechanisms of health information
systems were overridden to access 54% of patients‘ records. Another common pitfall of BTG policy is that such
broad-based privileges could be misused by employees. To address these issues Bhatti and Grandison (2007),
proposed a privacy management architecture (PRIMA) model that leverages artifacts such as audit logs arising from
the actual clinical workflow to infer and construct new privacy protection rules. In particular, PRIMA implements a
policy refinement module that periodically examines the access logs and identifies new policy rules using
sophisticated data-mining techniques. These audit logs could, as well, be used by privacy officials to determine
privacy violations, which in itself is a complex process and often requires merging data from disparate sources
(Ferreira, et al. 2006). Unfortunately such data merging may cause potential disclosure of patients‘ sensitive
information to the investigators against the patients‘ consent. In a related study, Malin and Arioldi (2007) developed
a Confidential Audits of Medical Record Access (CAMRA) protocol to ensure privacy of patient‘s identity during
such linking of disparate databases for comprehensive audit purpose without disclosing sensitive information.
In summary, a significant body of research has been developed in the domain of information access control offering
solutions to manage data access privileges in healthcare organizations. Yet, scholars (e.g. Ferreira et al. 2006)
recognize that access control management is not just a technical solution but requires consideration of work
processes, organizational structure and culture to provide effective information security. Effectiveness of access
control system, for example, with overriding privileges would very much depend on how the users interact with the
system. To improve the transparency of access control management, hospital systems are even adopting the policy
of sharing audit logs with patients, thus enabling them to continually refine access rights on their health records to
healthcare professionals (Lovis, et al. 2007).
Data Interoperability and Information Security
Healthcare information systems currently adopted by some provider organizations store health information in
different proprietary formats. This diversity of data formats creates a major hurdle in sharing patient data among
provider organizations as well to medical and health policy research. Walker, et al. (2005), in a recent investigation,
empirically argued that investing in EMR interoperability and establishing a health information exchange, could
save the industry $77Bper year. Whereas without interoperability, continued adoption of current EMR technologies
will promote information silos that already exist in today‘s paper based medical records leading to proprietary
control by information creators (Brailer 2005). Moreover, privacy and security in establishing an interoperable
health information exchange remain dominant issues. Recently, nationwide initiatives have been undertaken to
address the privacy and security problems under the auspices of AHRQ and the Office of the National Coordinator
for Health Information Technology. Currently 33 states and one territory have developed plans to implement privacy
and security policy solutions that enable seamless electronic exchange of health information (Dimitropoulos 2007a).
Most of these state plans recognize the need and call for development of a universal patient consent form that
incorporates common information disclosure situations as well for specially protected information. Furthermore they
call for standardized approaches for user authorization and authentication, user access, and audit of patient record
access and modification, uniform identification of patients, security of data during transmission and at rest
(Dimitropoulos 2007b).
Development of fully functional interoperable EHR system remains a major challenge. Recent research has
proposed prototype service-oriented architecture (SOA) models for EHR in various contexts including clinical
decision support (Catley et al. 2004), collaborative medical (mammogram) image analysis (Estrella et al. 2004), and
health clinic setting (Raghupathi and Kesh 2007). These SOA based EHRs are expected to be scalable to enable
inter-enterprise environments such as regional health information organizations (RHIO), and alliance of such RHIOs
could lead to national and global health information networks (Raghupathi and Kesh 2007). In a case study based
analysis of three emerging RHIOs, namely the Indian health Information Exchange, the Massachusetts Health Data
Consortium, and the Santa Barbara County Care Data Exchange, Solomon (2007) elicited several factors that
influence innovation and diffusion, adaptation, and change management of RHIOs. Among them, privacy and
security of patient information are major concerns hampering the adoption of clinical information technologies
across the RHIOs. Such concerns could remain in the near future as the technology standards for data
interoperability are still in the development stage (Dogac, et al. 2006; Eichelberg, et al. 2005).
Information Security on Web Enabled Healthcare Provision
The emergence of internet technologies has transformed the business model for customer oriented industries such as
retail and the financial services. The healthcare sector is also experiencing a tectonic shift in enablement of
healthcare services through internet and mobile technologies such as remote health monitoring, online consultation,
e-prescription, e-clinical trials, patient information access, and asset tracking among others (Kalorama 2007). Recent
advances in web technology have enabled new approaches to patient information management such as ―Banking on
Health‘ or ―Health Bank‖ (Ramsaroop and Ball 2000). The notion of health bank, first conceptualized in Ramsaroop
and Ball (2000), is a platform for storage and exchange of patient health records patterned after a personal banking
system where consumers could deposit and withdraw information. Recent launches of ‗HealthVault‘ by Microsoft
and ‗Google Health‘ by Google are examples of such health banking system. However such web enabled and mobile
based services open up a whole gamut of security risks compounding the privacy problem. The interception of
personally identifiable information by malicious intruders could jeopardize individual‘s welfare and may expose to
undesired vulnerabilities, social discrimination or economic loss.
A growing body of research is focused on developing mechanisms to address privacy and security concerns related
to internet and mobile technology based healthcare applications (e.g. Dong and Dulay 2006; Hung 2005; Peyton et
al. 2007; Raman 2007; Zheng et al. 2007). One such is, development of privacy preserving trust negotiation protocol
for mobile healthcare systems (Dong and Dulay 2006) that facilitates trust between user devices in compliance with
predefined access control and disclosure policies. Mobile devices, especially those possessed by patients, could be
electronically tracked leading to unintended exposure of patient‘s location. Thus to ensure integrity and
confidentiality of patient data, direct downloading of a patient‘s record to a PDA owned by healthcare professional
visiting the patient must be constrained by location or ownership information (Zheng et al. 2007). Advances are
made to incorporate device location and/or ownership constraints to strengthen the privacy enabled RBAC system
(Hung 2005; Cheng and Hung 2005). In another study, Choudhury and Ray (2007) present a ‗cooperative
management‘ methodology for assuring privacy of different stakeholders interacting via web based applications in
the healthcare service sector.
With the emergence of e-Health networks and HMOs offering web based services, the future success of e-Health is
likely to depend on how effectively patients can obtain and manage their health related information over the web in
secure manner. In view of this, recently several leading technology vendors and consumer oriented enterprises have
established the Liberty Alliance project to promote a common platform for privacy and security in ecommerce,
based on the principles of federated identity management (Peyton et al. 2007).
This emerging technology
framework is being adapted to establish ‗circle of trust‘ (CoT) for cooperating enterprises such as hospitals,
pharmacies, labs, and insurance providers thereby enabling them to offer web based services to patients. In this
framework, personally identifiable information is managed by a designated Identity Provider who provides
pseudonymous identities of patients for transactions among partners. Further, an Audit Service provided by
independent organization logs all transactional requests made by members of CoT, in compliance with privacy
regulations, thus enabling (1) a Privacy Officer or regulatory agency to validate privacy compliance or investigate
allegations of privacy breaches, and (2) individual patients to verify how their data is being used and challenge data
accuracy (ibid).
Information Security for Authorized Data Disclosure
In healthcare sector, it is often necessary to share data across organizational boundaries to support the larger
interests of multiple stakeholders as well as agencies involved with public health. However, the release of patient‘s
data could entail personally identifying information as well sensitive information that may violate privacy as well
cause socioeconomic repercussions for patient. Yet, such data, when masked for identifying and sensitive
information, must maintain the analytic properties to assure statistical inferences, especially when released for
epidemiological research (Truta et al. 2004). Advances in technology have led to consolidation of health records
from multiple sources to a single research database which supports researchers engaged in improvement of public
health, clinical methods and health services in general.
A significant and growing body of research, building on the theory of statistical disclosure control , offers a diverse
range of data masking methodologies and frameworks to minimize or control the disclosure risk of patient
information – e.g. global and local recoding (Samarati 2001), micro-aggregation (Domingo-Ferrer and Mateo-Sanz
2002; Domingo-Ferrer et al. 2006), data perturbation (Muralidhar and Sarathy 2005), data swapping (Dalenius and
Reiss 1982; Reiss 1984), and data encryption (Chao et al. 2002; Chao et al. 2005) among others, in addition to deidentification or removal of data identifiers (Ohno-Machado, et al. 2004). However, some scholars argue that it is
not possible to completely delink patients‘ identities from their health information for several reasons such as the
discovery of errors or irregularity in care provision requires identification of the patient for corrective follow-up
care, poor control on research validity and potential frauds if de-identified/anonymized data cannot be traced back to
original source, and increase in cost of data maintenance (Behlen and Johnson 1999). More recently, scholars
suggested SQL searching mechanisms of encrypted data (Susilo and Win 2007) and attribute protection
enhancement to k-anonymity algorithm (Truta and Vinay 2006) to maintain confidentiality of patients during data
disclosure for secondary purposes such as medical research. Similarly, set theory is used to build k-unlinkability that
could offer protection from intruders who may match publicly available information such as trails of location visits
to ―re-identify‖ a patient (Malin 2007). Reidl et al. (2007) devised an innovative architecture for creating a secure
pseudonymous linkage between patient and her health record that will allow authorization to approved individuals,
including healthcare providers, and relatives, and researchers.
Theoretical advances on data masking in academic research, discussed above, are as well being strengthened
contemporaneously with industrial research and technological advances such as Hippocratic database (Agrawal et al.
2002) and Sovereign Information Sharing platform (Agrawal et al. 2003; 2004). Hippocratic database is an
integrated suite of technologies that facilitates effective management of information disclosure from patients‘ health
records in compliance with regulatory standards without impeding the lawful flow of information to support
activities associated with individual level care provision and public health management (Agrawal and Johnson
2007). These advances have spurred further research on issues concerned with acquisition of privacy preferences
from patients under the aegis of eHealth applications built on Hippocratic database platform, such as complexity and
the large number of combinations of data recipients, purposes, and granularities of data (e.g. Hong et al. 2007).
Information Integrity in Healthcare and Adverse Effects
Information security risks are often interpreted by terms like ‗data breach‘ in mainstream of information systems
literature. However one of the key concepts of information security is ensuring data integrity in addition to
confidentiality and availability. In healthcare sector, design features of information system could become a primary
internal threat to information security. For example, the integrity of medical records may be compromised by poor
alert design. Recent research shows that excessive alerts may cause ―alert fatigue‖ leading clinicians to override
alerts which may be important to patient safety (Sijs et al. 2006). A growing body of research has focused on alert
overriding patterns among clinicians using both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Sijs and her colleague
reviewed 17 articles related to CPOE and CDSS implementations using Reason’s framework of accident causation
and conclude that the systems with high override rates may result in an increased level of adverse drug events. Three
of the studies reviewed with 57–90% overriding rates observed adverse drug events in 2–6% of the overridden alerts
(Sijs et al. 2006). Furthermore, the proliferation of IT in health sector has led to prevalence of larger patient data
repositories across American hospitals for medical decision making, giving rise to concerns on quality and reliability
of patient data for effective medical decision making (Lorence, et al. 2002). In a survey of health information
managers across United States, Lorence et al. (2003) discovered that, despite a national mandate to promote and
adopt uniform data quality management, about 39% of health information managers indicate their organizations
have not adopted adequate timeliness policies to correct errors.
Recent research shows that CPOE systems, if deployed without extensive knowledge and consideration of extant
work practices and information systems, could facilitate ‗potential‘ medical error risks such as (1) information errors
arising from fragmented data and disconnects between CPOE and other information systems, and (2) errors arising
from the human-machine interface that do not reflect conventional behavior and decision making processes of
healthcare professionals (Han, et al. 2005; Koppel, et al. 2005; Walsh, et al. 2006). Such adverse findings about
CPOE systems are also reflected in the perception of hospital executives. A recent study found that senior managers
in hospitals, including pharmacy directors, were satisfied with medication error reducing capabilities of CPOE, but
were very concerned about the efficacy of CPOE in pediatric support. Many of these concerns stem from the lack of
integration of CPOE with other systems like inventory control systems (Inquilla et al. 2007) or poor design and
policy features of the systems (Aarts et al. 2004). This body of research highlights the fact that technology alone
cannot meet the ulterior goals of high quality care. Instead a balanced approach of investment in technology,
processes, people, and knowledge base must be considered.
Financial Risk and Fraud Control
A significant amount of healthcare expenditures in United States is directly attributable to providers‘ fraudulent
services and billing practices. A recent report from Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS 2007)
suggests that about $10.8 Billion of payments (3.9% of total 276.2 Billion dollars paid) did not comply with the
norms of Medicare coverage, code billing, and payment rules. At national level, the fraud loss could range from 3%
to 10%, suggesting losses due to fraud may be between $68B and $225B on the US $2.26 trillion national health
expenditure (FBI 2007). According to FBI investigations, healthcare fraud could involve several types of schemes,
including billing for services not rendered, upcoding of services rendered, upcoding of medical items, duplicate
claims, unbundling of services, excessive services, medically unnecessary services, and referral kickbacks. In a
recent report on the use of health information technology to enhance and expand healthcare anti-fraud activities
(FORE 2005), a cross industry national executive committee examined the potential economic cost/ benefit of
implementing interoperable EHR based national health information network (NHIN) and concluded that it could
lead to substantial savings. Moreover, such net savings could become multifold on deployment of intelligent coding
tools, and analytics for fraud detection.
Healthcare Providers document diagnosis using International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which has over
120,000 codes (O‘Malley, et al. 2005). This coding system serves various purposes, in addition to classifying
morbidity and mortality information, including reimbursement, administration, epidemiology, and health services
research. For billing purposes, these ICD codes are grouped at macro level according to Drug Related Group (DRG)
coding principles. According to O‘Malley, et al. (2005), documentation errors could creep into patients‘ medical
record from different sources as patients proceed through the process of arrival to discharge. For example, these data
errors could result from the amount and quality of information at admission, communication quality between
patients and clinicians, clinical training and experience, transcription error, training and experience of coders, and
incorrect bundling of codes among others (O‘Malley, et al. 2005). In a recent survey study of information managers,
Lorence, et al. (2002) reported that about 14% of managers agree that at least 5% of codes are changed by billing
departments. This raises a concern on providing high quality health services, especially when health practitioners are
becoming dependent on information systems for decision making. In most service delivery settings, dependence on
information systems can become challenging if the system‘s source knowledgebase is of unknown reliability
(Lorence, et al. 2002a). Yet, quality improvements in healthcare, in particular from improved data integrity, and
timely availability of health history may reduce medical errors, and lessen duplicate tests yielding substantial
benefits to payers (Xu 2007).
Information security risks in healthcare have monetary consequences to multiple stakeholders including patients,
healthcare organizations, and payers (e.g. insurance). On the one hand, a recent identity theft survey conducted by
FTC suggested that in 2005 about 3.7% of consumers were victims of identity theft – 3% of which were medical
thefts where perpetrators received medical services using stolen personal information (FTC 2007). On the other
hand, General Accounting Office of US estimated that 10% of health expenditure reimbursed by Medicare accounts
for healthcare is paid to fraudsters, including identity thieves and fraudulent health service providers (Bolin and
Clark 2004; Lafferty 2007). As a result, federal initiatives were taken to establish a healthcare fraud and abuse
program as part of the HIPAA enactment in 1996. Since then, fraud control units at Center for Medicare and
Medicaid Services (CMS) investigate submitted claims and compare them to patients‘ medical record to identify
occurrence of fraud and prosecutes the fraudulent entities. A series of audit based studies have been conducted in the
past to identify determinants of healthcare fraud and abuse, in particular observable characteristics of providers/
hospitals and claims associated with fraudulent behavior (Hillman, et al. 1990; Psaty, et al. 1999; Silverman and
Skinner 2004; Swedlow, et al. 1992). In particular, Silverman and Skinner (2001) find evidence that upcoding
behavior (i.e., the practice of billing for higher charges) at non-profit hospitals is similar to that of for-profit
hospitals in the market where for-profit hospitals have a higher share of patient discharge, and for-profit hospitals
generally resort to upcoding practices even if they have minority share. More recently, an empirical study by
Becker, et al. (2005) concluded that increased expenditure at the Medicare Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) reduced
upcoding practices in context of patients diagnosed with illnesses including respiratory infections and pneumonia,
circulatory system disorders, kidney disorders, diabetes and nutritional/metabolic disorders.
In a detailed investigation of why fraud plagues America‘s healthcare system, Sparrow (1996; 1998) argued that
fraud control is a very complex endeavor and that most insurers have failed to measure the magnitude of the
problem. Currently, organizations use various approaches including automated claims auditing, manual examination
or audits of submitted claims, prepayment medical review and post-payment utilization review (Sparrow 1998).
Among them, they found that post-payment utilization review is the major tool (ibid) used by payer organizations.
Using that tool, sampled medical records associated with episodes of inpatient claims are audited to detect
fraudulent behavior of healthcare providers – an expensive undertaking for payer organizations (Rosenberg 2001). A
growing body of research in the fraud control area is exclusively focusing on usage of readily available data from
Universal Billing Form version 82 (UB82) to explicate changes in the rate of Non-Acceptable inpatient hospital
Claims (NAC). This approach is an outgrowth of statistical quality control (Rosenberg 1998; Rosenberg, et al.
1999; Rosenberg and Griffith 2000; Rosenberg 2001a,b; Rosenberg, et al. 2001). This stream of research seeks to
develop statistical control models for managing the NAC rate and supporting the traditional manual audits of claims.
In particular, such statistical systems that monitor all submitted claims instead of medical records sampled for audit,
could be used to monitor subgroups of claims to detect if the NAC rate has changed or to determine which
individual claims should be audited. Further the NAC rates are established for each diagnosis related groups (DRG)
using a Bayesian logistic regression model on the audited claims data stratified by DRGs, i.e. medical records and
UB82 data. For each principal diagnosis or DRG, this Bayesian model predicts the probability of a claim being NAC
using audit data as a function of several explanatory variables including sex, age, length of stay, emergency
admission type, urgent admission type, and medical type of service thus establishing a priori distribution of NAC
rate. Subsequently, the posterior distribution is generated by considering all claims submitted during an interval
between two planned consecutive audits. In developing a framework for statistical monitoring model, Rosenberg
(2001a) shows that a decision theoretic approach can be used to determine if the NAC rate has substantially
changed, warranting further investigation ( i.e. additional targeted audits, to manage the NAC rate within acceptable
level). In particular, the approach makes use of decision rules in the sense that if the expected loss is lower than the
expected audit cost, the statistical monitoring model recommends no investigation for the principal diagnosis under
review. Payer organizations equipped with such statistical monitoring tools for controlling the NAC rate could direct
their resources to other necessary services rather than on expensive audits (Rosenberg 2001b).
Regulatory Implication to Healthcare Practice
A significant body of research both in medical informatics and law, also investigates the implications of privacy and
security Much of this work has focused on the legal aspects of EHR and privacy facilitation through technology and
policies (Applebaum 2002; Cate 2002; Epstein 2002; Finne 1996; Hodge et al. 1999; Hyman 2002; Magnusson
2004; Mandl et al. 2001; Rothstein et al. 2007; Terry and Francis 2007; Tyler 2001), privacy of third party
information related to human subjects in medical research (Lounsbury et al. 2007), tradeoff between personal
privacy and population safety (Baker 2006; Gostin et al. 2001; Gostin and Hodge 2002; Hodge 2006; Hodge and
Gostin 2004), and medical error and risk information mining (Kuno et al. 2007; Tsumoto et al. 2007).
Applebaum (2002) reviewed the ethical and legal underpinnings of medical privacy governing the patient-doctor
relationship, including some of the empirical data derived from third party surveys such as the Gallup survey,
California Health Foundation, and academic research (e.g., Kraemer and Gesten (1998)). Applebaum concluded
that HIPAA is less friendly, especially in the psychiatric treatment, to medical privacy and that the onus lies with the
discretionary interpretation of physicians. Rothstein, et al. (2007) presents analysis of the magnitude of information
disclosure that could be permitted under HIPAA. Even by considering a limited set of contexts (for example
employment entrance examinations, individual life insurance applications, individual long-term care insurance
application, disability insurance claims, automobile insurance claims) Rothstein et al (2007) projected that, on
average, 25 millions health records are lawfully disclosed. In view of such staggering disclosures (especially when
the recipients may get more information about an individual than necessary for decision making) Rothsetin et al
(2007) argued for development of ―contextual access criteria‖ that could be deployed throughout the national health
information network to limit the scope of disclosure. In addition concerted efforts need to be made to provide
privacy safeguards based on fair information practices, incorporate industry wide security protection, and establish a
national data protection authority (Hodge, et al. 1999).
In psychosocial and health-behavioral research, medical researchers often collect information on ―third parties‖ who
are related to research participants. Building upon recommendations by Office for Human Research Protections
(OHRP) and Botkin (2001), Lounsbury, et al. (2007) propose a rule set that could be adopted by Institutional
Review Boards (IRBs) in deciding when informed consent for third party research could be waived. To balance the
conflicting needs of individuals‘ privacy and public health maintenance, HIPAA grants disclosure privileges to
‗covered entities‘ without individual authorization. Yet the onus of justifying access to patient information lies with
public health authorities (Hodge and Gostin 2004). The advocates of public health argue that ―privacy interests
should be strongest where they matter most to the individual … and communal interests should be maximized where
they are likely to achieve the greatest public good…‖ (Hodge and Gostin 2004: p 676).
3.10 Information Security Risk Management
Information security risk arising from data dissemination for purposes other than care provision has significant
ramifications to patients‘ identity and welfare. To protect the confidentiality of patients, the data owners must satisfy
two opposing objectives, namely the privacy of individuals and usability of released data (Winkler 2004). These two
objectives are generally referred to as – disclosure risk and information loss. A growing body of research focusing
on developing data disclosure methods, and evaluation of such methods, employ a variety of measures for disclosure
risk and information loss (e.g. Truta, et al. 2003a,b; Truta, et al. 2004; Winkler 2004). For example, Truta et al.
(2003a) defines a set of disclosure risk measures, in particular minimal disclosure risk, maximal disclosure risk, and
weighted disclosure risk, which could be used for a wider combination of methods adopted for disclosing patients‘
health information. These disclosure risk measures are derived for estimating the overall quantum of disclosure risk
for a given disclosure request under two different disclosing methods – (1) identifier removal method in which
personally identifiable are extricated in the released dataset, and (2) sampling and microaggregation methods in any
order on the initially masked data obtained from previous method. The authors, in deriving these three measures,
make assumption about the extent of prior knowledge an intruder may have from external sources. In another study,
Truta et al. (2004a) considered sampling based data disclosure method to assess its performance with respect to
above three risk measures. More recently, Truta and his colleagues extended this line of research by considering new
dimensions in data disclosure, in particular, potential utility for intruders and ordered relation of attributes that could
be exploited by intruders (Truta et al. 2004b).
Disclosure of patient information for research purpose requires that the disclosed data remains consistent with
respect to its statistical properties to minimize information. The measurement of information loss, however, depends
on potential usages of released data, which is difficult to anticipate at the time of disclosure (Domingo-Ferrer et al.
2001). For example, some disclosure control methods may alter the multivariate covariance structure of attributes
necessary for conducting multivariate regression analyses, while keeping the univariate properties intact. Truta et al.
(2003b) propose modifications to information loss measures presented in Domingo-Ferrer at el (2001) taking into
account peculiarity of health data.
Information security risks to health information systems, as discussed earlier in section 2, could arise from different
sources. Managing information security risks is a complex process and requires investments in organizational
resources and multipronged approaches such as Bayesian network analysis (Maglogiannis and Zafiropoulos 2006),
elicitation of user‘s privacy valuation using experimental economics (Poindexter, et al. 2006), operationally critical
threat, asset, and vulnerability evaluation (OCATVE) approach (Alberts and Dorofee 2003), predictive Bayesian
approach based risk analysis (Aven and Eidesen 2007), and information security insurance contract
(Lambrinoudakis et al. 2005) among others.
New Directions for Information Security and Privacy Research
The American healthcare delivery system has transformed over the past century from a patient–physician dyadic
relationship into a complex network linking patients to multiple stakeholder. Information technology advances and
their adoption into healthcare industry are likely to improve healthcare provision quality, reduce healthcare cost, and
advance the medical science. However, this transformation has increased the potential for information security risk
and privacy violation. It is estimated that healthcare fraud comprises about 10% of total health expenditure in United
States (Dixon 2006). Moreover, with growing digitization of health records, medical identity theft has become a
larger looming issue, costing payers and patients. Anecdotal evidence suggests that major threats to patient privacy
are internal factors, not external (Wall Street Journal 2008).
In this survey of information security research in healthcare sector we reviewed extant body of knowledge spanning
nine broad themes of research domains – threats to information privacy, a definitional research area; privacy
concerns among healthcare consumers; healthcare professionals‘ concern of regulatory compliance; financial risk;
information access control; information security risks to eHealth; information security for authorized data
disclosure; information reliability in healthcare and adverse effects; and information security risk measurement and
management. This review indicates that scholars from health informatics, legal, and computer science disciplines
have adopted a multitude of methodologies including design research, qualitative, and quantitative research methods
to examine various aspects of information security and privacy in the healthcare sector. Information security per se
has drawn significant attention among mainstream information systems scholars, yet very little has been published
in the mainstream information systems journals on information security in healthcare. Next we highlight some of the
potential research directions that could enhance this research area.
Threats to information privacy: extant knowledgebase on information security risks identify different types of
threats to privacy and security of health information. Future research may focus on characterizing these threats based
on organizational contexts, which may help practitioners in developing effective information security risk
monitoring and management policies.
Privacy concerns among healthcare consumers: with increasing reliance on web based systems for managing health
information, and deployment of health banks privacy concerns of healthcare consumers has been brought to the
forefront. Recent research in this area has often focused on restricted user bases, such as students. Future research
may explore the variance of privacy preferences in the context of online systems among broader range of users
including working population, and senior citizens. A deeper understanding of factors influencing healthcare
consumers‘ willingness to disclose personal information would enable enhancing the adoption of eHealth.
Healthcare professionals’ concern of regulatory compliance: with increased regulation on data use and control,
managers are increasing concerned with compliance. Research on employee security hygiene in complex healthcare
environments is clearly needed.
Financial risk: Information security failures could also lead to financial losses to various stakeholders including
patients, providers, and payers arising from fraudulent care and drug charges by organized criminals (Ball et al.
2003), the sale of medical identities to illegal immigrants (Messmer 2008), and fraudulent billing for services never
received leading to erroneous health records and potential harm to patients (Dixon 2006). Aside such anecdotal
evidences, a systematic study of financial risk is in order to guide information security policy development and
inform health maintenance organizations as they move toward wider adoption of electronic health records systems.
Information access control: current research on information access has primarily focused on technological solutions
to the problem. Very little, if any, econometric and economic research is pursued that may offer prescriptive
guidelines for decision making. Healthcare organizations require investing on information security measures, such
as access control systems, intrusion detection systems, policies, and personnel among others. Failure of such
information security systems may severe business continuity and may diminish operating efficiency. The myriad of
information systems in hospitals are complex and highly interdependent.. With the emergence of ubiquitous access
to patient information using mobile technologies in provider organizations (Abaraham, et al. 2008) this complexity
is bound to rise. Recently, Zhao and Johnson (2008) modeled, using game theoretic approach, the information
access governance problem in a data oriented enterprise to study the impact of incentives coupled with auditing to
determine optimal levels of access. Establishing and revising access control policies in hospital environments, due to
the multitude of roles, interdependent information systems, and dynamic nature of role assignment, is an expensive
endeavor. Future research could examine the information governance problem accounting for the peculiarities of a
healthcare organization. Furthermore, research could develop insights into the characteristics of interdependency
between business processes enabled by information systems, and how such network of processes could be unduly
affected by information security failures. In our extensive review of literature, we find only empirical study
reporting on access privilege provision and actual usage for a European hospital. Similar studies in the context of
American hospitals are called for to inform the research and practice on the usage of information access privileges
and overriding habits.
Information security to eHealth: over the years healthcare sector has experienced a significant growth in use of
mobile health devices and web based applications. Contemporaneously, information security research has focused
on development of frameworks, and protocols to address security issues in eHealth environment. Future research
may examine effectiveness of these frameworks and protocols on operational efficiency of healthcare providers and
consumer satisfaction.
Information security for authorized data disclosure: advocates of public health argue that ―privacy interests should
be strongest where they matter most to the individual … and communal interests should be maximized where they
are likely to achieve the greatest public good …‖ (Hodge and Gostin 2004, p 676). In the past, research has focused
on developing theoretical solutions for secure data disclosure. However, every healthcare provider may not deploy
state-of-the-art technology, incorporated with most recent algorithms, to disclose data for secondary purposes.
Understanding the operational effectiveness of data disclosure technology from the field may help hospital
administration in refining disclosure policies, as well choosing appropriate data disclosure technology solutions.
Information integrity in healthcare: past research has mainly examined the impact of investment in health
information technology on medical error for single instantiation of system deployment. Understanding both the
economics and effectiveness of security within the context of care quality is a potentially fruitful area of research.
Future research is needed to span large number of CPOE installations, both at regional and national level, to
characterize the impact of such system on information integrity leading to medical errors. Such studies could
consider explicating the influence of several factors such as hospital characteristics, drug safety alert overriding
behavior, false alerts due to inadequacy of knowledge base (clinical decision support system), incomplete or
erroneous patient record, workflow interruptions or delay, among others. Further, as in Schmidek and Weeks (2005),
which examined correlation between adverse events reported prior to during 1992- 2000 and tort claims by patients
of Veterans Health Administration, future studies could examine relationship between adverse events arising from
information integrity and tort claims in the general population served by HMOs.
We hope that this review and proposed directions for future research will induce a new line of research offering
valuable insights to decision makers.
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