Healthcare breaches & fraud are here to stay

May 15, 2012 by bkrenek

Don’t expect medical breaches and healthcare fraud to drop off the radar anytime soon. Here’s why.

First, the number of breaches in the industry is still escalating. In 2011, healthcare breaches occurred 32% more frequently than in 2010.1

Second, the profitably of medical records on the black market is high – 192% more profitable than Social Security numbers. Estimates put the former at $50 and the latter at $1, according to a GovTech.com article.

It’s this frequency and profitability that, in part, help to ensure the continuation of data loss and fraud. The sooner the industry accepts and prepares for incidents, the better.

Healthcare organizations still have a lot to do in that regard. Forty-three percent rank their ability to counter internal and external data security threats as “needs improvement,” “poor” or “failing.”2 And their actions – or lack thereof – can adversely affect patients. Medical identity theft can cost a consumer $20,663 to resolve.3

So what exactly is compromising data security at healthcare organizations? In a recent study, most organizations (54%) agreed that a lack of budgetary resources dedicated to security and privacy is the greatest weakness in preventing a breach.4 The study also named the top three causes of data breaches as:

  • Lost or stolen computing devices
  • Third-party errors
  • Unintentional employee actions5

Looking at the list, it’s clear that budgeting for security and privacy needs to encompass protecting mobile and other computing devices, training employees and verifying that third party partners uphold a high level of security as well.

Without a well-rounded approach to data security, organizations make themselves even more vulnerable at a time when vulnerability is a given. Organizations big and small can’t do without computers, third parties and employees – or at least two of the three. So the risk of a breach and resulting fraud can never be completely eradicated. Human error alone is impossible to eliminate.

But risks can be managed with a comprehensive plan that addresses a full spectrum of weaknesses and threats. A plan that includes access controls and encryption for sensitive data as well as a response guide to handling a data breach if one occurs.

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1. Second Annual Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy & Data Security, Ponemon Institute (2011)
2. Healthcare Information Security Today (2011)
3. Second Annual National Study on Medical Identity Theft, Ponemon Institute (2011)
4. Second Annual Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy & Data Security, Ponemon Institute (2011)
5. Second Annual Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy & Data Security, Ponemon Institute (2011)