Data mining

Doctors ease into electronic records; barriers to braodband expansion; and the decade's biggest data losses

Physician offices have increased their use of electronic health records by 9.7 percent in the past year, according to a survey by research firm SK&A. In the United States, 36.1 percent of medical offices now use EHRs, compared with 32.9 percent a year ago.

Electronic records form a major component of the Obama administration's plans for improving the nation's health care, and $17 billion in incentives for adopting EHRs were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

More doctors say they’re using EHRs:

2009: 36.1%
2008: 32.9%

Source: SK&A

The Barriers to Broadband Expansion

The Federal Communications Commission recently released a report that details broadband adoption in the United States, and it will soon deliver a national broadband plan to Congress. The efforts are part of the Obama administration's plan to create jobs and spur economic growth by connecting rural areas to the Internet.

But there are challenges.

  • 93 million Americans — about one-third of the country — are not connected to high-speed Internet at home.
    80 million are adults, and 13 million are children.

FCC’s survey identifies three main barriers to adoption:

  • Affordability: 36% of nonadopters — 28 million adults — say they don't have broadband because the monthly fee is too expensive.
  • Digital literacy: 22% — or 17 million adults — say they don't have broadband because they lack the digital skills.
  • Relevance: 19% — or 15 million adults — said the Internet is a waste of time.

Source: Federal Communications Commission

Biggest Data Losses of the Decade

  • June 2004: 92 million AOL subscribers’ e-mail addresses are sold to spammers.
  • June 2005: 40 million credit card numbers are taken from a hacked credit card processing firm.
  • May 2006: Details on 26.5 million Army veterans are stolen by hackers.
  • January 2007: TJX Companies, a global conglomerate that includes T.J. Maxx, T.K. Maxx, Marshalls and Winners, loses at least 45 million sets of credit card details after hackers penetrated systems.
  • March 2008: 12.5 million sets of records on backup tapes are lost by BNY Mellon shareholder services.
  • September 2008: Two CDs containing records on 11 million people are found in a Seoul scrap heap. The data is traced to oil refinery GS Caltex.
  • May 2009: Secret information on the Joint Strike Fighter and President Barack Obama's personal helicopter are leaked through peer-to-peer networks.
  • October 2009: Hard drives sent for repair are found to contain data on 76 million Army veterans.

Source: Sophos