3 ways patients can safeguard PHI

As breaches at hospitals grow, and patients increasingly are seeing their personal health information compromised, there are ways not just hospitals, but consumers themselves can keep their data secure.

Millions of people in 2015 alone have seen their data accessed by hackers. The attacks have happened across the board in healthcare, including at providers like UCLA Health, payers such as Anthem and even an electronic health record vendor, Medical Informatics Engineering.

With the information, hackers can steal a patient's medical identity--using the data to get healthcare and create medical bills in the patient's name, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"If somebody gets access to your checking account, the bank will reimburse you," Mark Savage, director of health IT policy and programs with the National Partnership for Women & Families, told the Times. "If somebody gets access to your health information, there's a broader range of things that can happen and it doesn't necessarily un-ring that bell."

Three ways patients can help to keep their information secure, according to the Times, include:

  1. Only share private information when it's absolutely needed: While patients are often asked for therr Social Security number, it's not necessary for care and they should give it out sparingly
  2. Get credit monitoring: If a hack occurs and credit monitoring is offered, take advantage of it. "The important thing is to actually access the website or read the reports," healthcare attorney David Harlow told the Times.
  3. Watch your health records: Patients should request their full health record to make sure there is nothing off about them and confirm all the information is correct, the article notes. In addition, people should check the benefits from their health insurer to make sure they aren't being billed for services they didn't receive.

To learn more:
- here's the Los Angeles Times article

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