This week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) held its town hall on medical identity theft as promised. Most of what people learned, however, was that there is a lack of information on the subject.
There is no national data regarding medical identity theft. Isolated reports and anecdotal evidence make it clear that it is an existing problem, but the town hall noted that it's hard to tell how big of a problem it is without national data. The FTC and the Justice Department are working to do a more in depth survey.
In the meantime, how should health professionals try to keep their practices from being affected by this kind of identity theft? ONCHIT recommended the use of IT to keep patients' medical identities their own. Some hospitals and doctors' offices are already beginning to use biometrics as an expense but robust way to protect medical identity.
Hopefully when the FTC and the Department of Justice have completed their in-depth survey, patterns will emerge in terms of how medical identity theft is perpetrated, and health care professionals will know exactly which kinds of security will be needed.
To learn more about the town hall:
- Read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)