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Medical identity theft a growing concern

Mar 26, 2014 Dave King

Hospitals and other medical facilities do a great deal to protect personal information, but recent trends, such as bring-your-own-device, data breaches and cybercrime, which can lead to identity theft, are becoming a big concern.

The 2013 HIMSS Security Survey found that the most common reason for a breach was snooping employees, as 75 percent of health care providers cited staff as a concern. There has been some progress in preventing attacks, but experts believe more needs to be done.

"Though progress is noticeable, it is critical that health care organizations put in place a comprehensive plan that addresses potential security threats – whether internal or external – to prevent electronic health data breaches and minimize the impact of a breach should one occur," said Michael Bruemmer, vice president for Experian Data Breach Resolution.

Here are some concerning statistics about medical information security:

  • Just 17 percent of survey respondents said their health care organization encrypts data on mobile medical devices and biometric technology.
  • Only half of providers reported having a CSO, CISO or other full-time leader in charge of security of patient data.

In addition to medical facilities doing more to prevent identity theft, financial institutions such as short term lenders need to do their part as well. For example, ID verification procedures need to be improved for people who apply for loans and credit, as criminals who steal identities generally attempt to open accounts using the names of victims. With financial institutions and medical facilities stepping up efforts, identity theft may become less frequent, which would be beneficial, as this crime causes damage to consumer credit scores, among other things.