Medical ID theft increases, doctors beware

Medical ID theft increases, doctors beware

A revealing privacy report released on the heels of one of the largest breaches of digital health data ever finds a substantial uptick in medical identity theft with doctors' offices in the crosshairs.

Medical identity theft spiked 22 percent last year.

Medical identity theft affected nearly 500,000 more people in 2014-a 22 percent spike over the year before-according to a report by privacy research firm Ponemon Institute released in February 2015. In the five years since the study began, the number of incidents has nearly doubled to more than 2 million.

Stolen electronic health records not only could cost patients their financial information, but also personal identifiers that allow imposters access to medical care or prescriptions on the victim's dime. The report found the cost to patients for resolving such incidents of fraud: up to $13,500, accounting for legal fees and fraudulent claims.

And the number of affected patients is expected to rise much higher. The report doesn't account for the nearly 80 million people affected by the Anthem, Inc., cyberattack earlier in February, the latest in a string of data breaches.

Just months earlier, American Medical Association President Robert Wah, M.D., made headlines when he said it was only a matter of time before hackers shifted focus from the retail sector to circumvent comparatively lax security systems for patient medical data.

Protect patients, protect yourself
Now is the time for doctors to take action to ensure both patient information and their practices are safe. A data breach won't only cost the practice money—averaging $359/record, per industry data—but also reputation as businesses are legally mandated in 46 states to notify customers of such an event.

"All optometrists who use computers in the practice and off-site for patient care are liable for cyberattacks," writes Chad Fleming, O.D.

Take the appropriate actions to safeguard your patient information and yourself. Cyber liability insurance is becoming a necessity as standard business liability often only covers property or bodily damages. Cyber liability covers:

  • Expenses related to responding to a major privacy event

  • Notifying all parties affected

  • Costs related to ongoing credit monitoring

  • Outside investigative costs

Find out more about cyber liability insurance, available through the AOAExcel Liability & Business Insurance program, underwritten by Aegis, and don't become the next headline.

March 11, 2015

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