Improve data breach response to retain patients

As the number of health data breaches continue to soar, healthcare organizations not only have to worry about losing patient records but also losing patient trust and loyalty, according to a survey conducted by the independent researcher, Ponemon Institute.

Of the more than 700 survey respondents who had experienced a breach, 62 percent of healthcare consumers said their trust and confidence in the organization dropped because of the incident. Moreover, 15 percent said they would or already have ended their relationship with the organization over the data breach, while another 39 percent said they would consider parting ways.

The findings show that patients associate trustworthiness with the organization's ability to protect personal information. According to 83 percent of respondents, organizations that fail to protect their personal data are untrustworthy, according to the research announcement released Monday.

In addition to protecting data, the actions taken after the data have been compromised influence relationships with patients. Most individuals were dissatisfied with the data breach notifications they received and thought the notification letters looked like junk mail.

The survey suggests healthcare organizations can stay trustworthy and retain patients in the aftermath of a data breach with better communication and clearer information.  

Respondents recommend personalized notifications (54 percent), the inclusion of individuals to contact for more information (63 percent) and phone calls or emails to notify affected individuals of the breaches (50 percent).

"As shown in the findings of this consumer study, resources spent on personalizing the message, offering assistance to reduce the likelihood of identity theft and providing specific information about the nature of the incident help reassure victims that the organization truly has the customer's well-being in mind," Ponemon Institute Chairman and Founder Larry Ponemon said in the statement.

For more information:
- read the research announcement (.pdf)
- download the Ponemon Institute survey (registration required)