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Australia considers huge fines for EHR snooping

How’s this for a deterrent against unauthorized snooping into patient EHRs? Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon recently proposed whopping fines of A$13,200 for individuals and A$66,000 for companies that illegally access patient records. The Aussie dollar is nearly on par with the greenback these days, so the numbers are virtually equal when you convert to U.S. currency. That’s a lot of money.

Now, Australia doesn’t actually have much in the way of EHRs just yet, so this is somewhat speculative, but I think those numbers will get people’s attention. At least it will make records clerks think twice before peering at the records of people like Hugh Jackman or Nicole Kidman, right? The celebrity snooping at UCLA Health System cost the organization $865,000 in a legal settlement, and two employees were convicted of crimes, but I’m not aware of an individual being fined more than $2,000.

Would the threat of automatic big-dollar fines prevent unauthorized peeking at EHRs, or are lawsuits like the one the HHS Office for Civil Rights filed against UCLA more of a deterrent?

October 11, 2011 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

UCLA has a Wireless Health Institute?

I got an announcement Thursday that UCLA has named Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., executive director of its Wireless Health Institute. This was news to me, not that the institute had a new director, but that UCLA had a Wireless Health Institute in the first place.

According to the press release, the school set up the institute in 2008. That was news to me. I guess I should be on top of this, given that I’m the editor of the new FierceMobileHealthcare, but it appears that UCLA hasn’t done too much to promote this center, given that the last headline on the home page was from Oct. 31, 2008. Perhaps the appointment of Soon-Shiong, founder and chairman of biotech firm Abraxis BioScience, means the institute will become more active?

May 21, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.