Digital records help, but perhaps too risky - health officials

  • 21/07/2018

Doubt is being cast over moving to electronic health records following revelations of a major cyber attack.

Newshub revealed on Friday the Bay of Plenty DHB is fending off roughly 10 attacks a second, from countries like Russia and the Ukraine. That's as many as 864,000 attacks a day.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialist executive director Ian Powell says it's unnerving.

"It will be as much the unknown risk as anything else that will cause anxiety, certainly amongst people working in our public hospitals and in charge of patient records, about the breaches of confidentiality."

Mr Powell says it could dampen plans to move to electronic patient files, which is sad because digital files work wonders.

"They make… health professionals' jobs much easier, much more effective, and has the potential to significantly improve the quality of care they provide."

Internal tests have shown staff are quite willing to click on dodgy links in emails.

"Disappointingly I have to report that over 100 staff failed the last test, going into the link provided and inputting their details," Bay of Plenty DHB CEO Helen Mason told Newshub.

It's unclear if any files have been affected.

In the UK last year, hospitals were crippled when computers were infected with ransomware, throwing the entire health system into crisis.

"Cyber-attacks are an unfortunate reality for any major institution, but are of particular concern for DHBs where patient safety and patient data security are paramount," Health Minister David Clark told Newshub.

"My clear expectation is that DHBs have appropriate protection in place for their computer networks and patient data."