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Health, Science & Tech

UPMC Says Data Is Safe, Secure

To Pittsburghers concerned about the latest uptick in data breaches, health care giant UPMC has a singular message: the information they collect is safe.

UPMC keeps electronic data on every patient that comes through the system — more than seven million patient files. 

“Health care is both an art and a science, and having good quality detailed high fidelity information is incredibly important to physicians and clinicians in order to deliver care to you," said John Paul Houston, UPMC's vice president for privacy and information security. "So we store obviously an enormous amount of health care-specific data about a patient."

UPMC began migrating from paper to electronic records about 15 years ago.

"Generally speaking, [the information collected] would relate to our delivery of health care to you at UPMC," Houston said. "It could be demographic information about who you are. It would certainly be information we collected in the context of us delivering care to you."

UPMC employs a team of about 50 people in IT security. They use a system that sends alerts if a certain type of access looks inappropriate.

Stoltenberg Consulting, a healthcare information technology consulting firm based in Bethel Park released a survey last month that stated that 51 percent of hospital systems surveyed showed confusion toward what healthcare to collect and how much.