Report: Medical data theft growing as more adopt EMRs

Data theft and other fraudulent activities related to exposure of EMR data more than doubled last year, to 7 percent in 2009, compared to 3 percent in 2008, market research firm Javelin Strategy & Research reports. And EMRs can be so rich in sensitive data like Social Security numbers, insurance ID numbers, medical history and even payment information that they are tremendously valuable to criminals.

Criminals tend to use information stolen from medical records for an average of 320 days, vs. just 81 days for pilfered data from other sources, Javelin says. It takes twice as long to detect medical data fraud than with other forms of identity theft, and costs $12,100 to do so, also more than twice the general average.

"There's more Identity fraud of any kind being generated from exposure to health records which [have] particularly sensitive information," James Van Dyke, president of Javelin Strategy & Research, says, according to InformationWeek. And he believes fraud will increase as EMRs proliferate. "We think medical providers aren't up to the task. They won't have security best practices in place to match the incidents of fraud, and we think theft of personal health information is going to get worse," Van Dyke adds.

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