Considering that patients must trust their doctors with their health, it makes sense that they wouldn’t give a second thought to trusting their personal information to the medical office. However, according to statistics released from a recently-completed study by the Ponemon Institute – a company that analyzes data and privacy – medical data breaches increased by 32% during 2011.
In fact, a shocking 96% of healthcare providers polled acknowledged that some of their patient data has wound up lost over the past two years.
“Our study found that the number of data breaches among healthcare organizations . . . is still growing – eroding patient privacy and contributing to medical identity theft,” read the report.
Seventy-two healthcare organizations participated in the survey and among them there was an average of four data breaches each throughout the year last year. Nearly 30% of those breaches resulted in identity theft.
Credit-Land.com`s personal finance expert Michael Germanovsky said, “While you cannot hide your personal information from doctors and can`t do anything about the way they store data, one thing you can do is apply for Identity Protection services such as LifeLock, for example.”
Of all the breaches reported, half of them were because of the institutions losing devices such as computers which contained sensitive patient records. The report exposed the fact that half of those polled “admit their organizations do nothing to protect these devices,” read the report. “Widespread use of mobile devices is putting patient data at risk.”
An astonishing amount of healthcare workers do not find their employers to be doing an adequate job of safeguarding patient information. A mere 29% of survey takers feel that the organization they work for properly prioritizes data breach prevention despite the fact that 90% claim to hold the belief that breaches are harmful to patients.
Additionally, most patients who suffer from their data being lost or stolen are left to clean up the mess themselves. Only a bit over a third of respondents said their employers offer affected patients any identity theft protection.
One option that any victim of identity theft has is to place a security freeze on their credit report which prevents all three credit reporting bureaus from releasing any information without the individual’s consent which can prevent thieves from using their information to open fake accounts.