News & Resources

EHRs create medical identity theft risk

Nov 28, 2013 Dave King

The health care industry is currently undergoing a major transition to electronic health records (EHRs). While EHRs can improve efficiency in hospitals and other medical facilities, there is also the risk of identity theft from outside hackers. For this reason, EHR security is extremely important as medical identity theft can damage the finances of victims as well as put their lives in jeopardy, according to Healthcare IT News.

"Medical identity theft has been called the privacy crime that can kill," said California Attorney General Kamala Harris, in a press statement. "As the Affordable Care Act encourages the move to electronic medical records, the healthcare industry has an opportunity to improve public health and combat medical identity theft with forward-looking policies and the strategic use of technology."

To protect consumer credit scores, short term lenders and other financial institutions need to implement strong ID verification procedures, but people also need to be made aware of the common signs of medical identity theft to prevent a potential fatal situation.

- Strange medical bills: Much like when a person uses someone's identity to open credit or loan accounts, this type of crime could lead to strange medical bills, according to For example, anyone who gets a bill for health care services they didn't receive should complete the necessary steps to ensure they haven't been a victim of medical identity theft.

- Collection calls: When medical bills aren't paid, hospitals and other facilities may send them to a collections agency. People who receive calls regarding unpaid medical bills may have been victimized by an identity thief. Collection calls are easy to brush off, but people who have other accounts in collection need to be sure to pay attention when calls are received so they can determine whether or not they are legitimate.

- Change of address notification: When a criminal gains access to a person's medical information, they may attempt to change the address on an insurance plan to prevent the victim from receiving any bills. However, most providers will send a change of address notification. People who receive one of these in the mail should take it very seriously, as there is a chance it wasn't just a mistake. Ignoring a change of address notification could make the situation much worse.