Is the Biggest Threat to Medical Information Simply a Lack of Understanding?

Document Type

Book Chapter


IOS Press


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Computer and Security Science / Security Research Centre (secAU)




This chapter was originally published as: Williams, P.A.H. (2011). Is the biggest threat to medical information simply a lack of understanding? In D.P. Hansen, A.J. Maeder & L.K. Schaper (Eds.), Health Informatics: The transformative power of innovation (pp. 179-187). Amsterdam, Netherlands: IOS Press.Original chapter available here


Connecting Australian health services and the e-health initiative is a major focus in the current health environment. Many issues are presented as key to its success including solving issues with confidentiality and privacy. However, the main problem may not be these issues in sharing information but the fact that the point of origin of such records is still relatively insecure. This paper highlights why this may be the case. Research into the security of medical information has shown that many primary healthcare providers are unable to create an environment with effective information security. Numerous factors contribute to this complex situation including a trustful environment, the resultant security culture and the capability of individual healthcare organisations. Further, the growing importance of new directions in the use of patient information is considered. This paper discusses these issues and positions them within the complex environment that is healthcare. In our current health system infrastructure, the points of origin of patient information are our most vulnerable. This entwined with progressively new uses of this information expose additional security concerns, such as re-identification of information, that require attention.




Link to publisher version (DOI)