Med identity theft continues to rise

Medical identity theft incidents rose more than 20 percent in fiscal year 2014 compared to the year prior, according to a recently released survey by the Ponemon Institute.

The researchers found that data theft is costly for consumers, complicated and time-consuming to resolve and--of course--can negatively impact a patient's reputation. Ponemon surveyed more than 49,000 adults across the U.S. for the study.

Some of the findings include:

  • 79 percent of respondents said it is important for healthcare providers to ensure the privacy of their health records
  • 68 percent, however, said they are not confident in their healthcare providers' security measures
  • 48 percent would change providers if their records were lost or stolen; however, 52 percent said they were unsure of what action they would take
  • Following a theft, 80 percent cited being reimbursed for "money spent to prevent future damages" as the most important step
  • 35 percent who had medical information compromised said their benefits were used by the hacker and thus a valid insurance claim was denied
  • When it comes to knowing about HIPAA and privacy standards, 35 percent said they were "not familiar" with them and 34 percent had never heard of them

"To reduce the risk of medical identity theft, healthcare providers and insurance providers should help consumers gain more control over their medical records," the report's authors concluded.

Another recent study by the Ponemon Institute also found that security professionals--including those in healthcare--say they feel ill-prepared to defend against cybersecurity attacks, FierceHealthIT recently reported.

And issues surrounding safety of health data show no signs of slowing. This year has already seen one of the biggest incidents in the industry's history when personal information for roughly 80 million individuals was compromised after hackers broke into a database for Anthem Inc., the nation's second-largest health insurance company. That hack could cost Anthem more than $100 million. 

To learn more:
- check out the findings (.pdf)