How Healthcare Data Breaches Harm Patients

26 million people were impacted by healthcare data breaches in 2020; the cost per breached record skyrocketed to $499. Healthcare continues to be a major target for cyber criminals, with no signs of slowing down.

Everyone knows the importance of HIPAA compliance. But, organizations typically focus on avoiding fines and negative press— overlooking data breaches that can turn patients into victims of medical identity theft.

Hackers who steal patient records sell them for exorbitant prices to other criminals, who use them to pose as patients for treatment and prescriptions. This can result in victims owing thousands in false medical bills.

Some criminals even use stolen data to open fake clinics and bill insurance carriers for false claims. This is bad news for healthcare organizations and business associates, but it’s worse for individual victims, who may spend years contesting responsibility for bills that aren’t theirs.

However, the negative impact of medical identity theft goes beyond huge medical bills. In the pursuit of a big payoff, identity thieves wreak havoc on individuals’ medical records. Medical histories, allergies, and diagnostic information become unreliable— and potentially dangerous— as the criminal misrepresents himself as the patient. This can lead to life-threatening errors for patients.

When it comes to data breaches, prevention is the best cure

HIPAA compliance is the first line of defense, but a comprehensive information security program that fosters a culture of security is essential. For healthcare providers breaking new ground with digitized records, this means helping employees understand the real-world consequences of violating security rules: putting patient lives at risk.

Healthcare providers can also secure medical records using biometric patient identification platforms. Patients have their irises or faces scanned to lock their records. A camera will confirm their identity the next time they visit their healthcare professional.

In the fight against cyber crime, meeting HIPAA requirements isn’t enough. Providers must protect patients’ well-being by securing digital medical records. For expert guidance on how to integrate cybersecurity and compliance requirements, contact Securance today.