One Reason To Not Speed Up Hospital Digitization

Part of the recent episode of Science Goes to the Movies that I posted about Saturday involved a discussion of how outdated much of the technology hospitals are using for their record keeping.

Unfortunately, computerized record keeping is not the only networked activity that hospitals are having problems with.  Computer security is a serious problem.  On Saturday The Washington Post noted the recent ransomware attack on a local health-care system.  Attacks like this, where the attacked party must pay a ransom or risk losing access to the data now controlled by the attacking hacker, are not unique to hospitals and hospital systems, but they seem to be a favored target for this tactic.  Whether this is due to a technical or organizational characteristic of health-care systems I can’t tell.

For better or worse, a lot of this comes to money.  As hospitals and health-care systems are under pressure to invest in new information technology, security for that technology does not get enough attention or investment to keep up with the new technology.  And, of course, other systems reliant on information technology need to make the right kind of investments in both technology and people.  It’s just that hospitals seem to be getting the attention right now.


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