When trust is compromised in the doctor’s office, we have to deal with a scary sort of uncertainty. If you can’t trust your doctor, the hospital, the medical staff and your insurer with your personal information, then who can you trust, and with what? Here’s what you need to know about patient data breaches:
A Majority of Medical Companies Polled Lack Proper Security Resources
According to a 2012 Lifelock identity theft review of industries with the most data breaches, the medical industry makes up for 34 percent of data breaches, coming in at second (after business) for the most data breaches. The majority of medical companies polled simply do not have the appropriate resources to guarantee the security of their patients’ personal data. In the face of already-ballooning expenses, the medical industry is simply having trouble keeping up with hackers and data thieves. It’s a matter of technology, financing and training. You simply can’t be sure that the staff is adequately protecting your data.
Nobody Needs Convincing – the Issue is Resources
According to that same study, 95 percent of medical professionals claim to understand the importance of confidentiality and the risk of data breach, but 74 percent of organizations do not offer monitoring or support to those whose information has been compromised. In other words, if you have your data compromised, three out of four times you’re going to be on your own trying to sort through the aftermath. The money is either not there or not being spent in the right way to protect the patient’s privacy.
The Government is Pushing for Greater Accountability
The HITECH Act, devised by congress to address electronic medical record concerns, added a notification system to ensure that, at the very least, if your data is compromised, then you’ll be the first to know. It might not be enough to address the problem in a comprehensive manner right away, but it’s a start. It should help lead to greater accountability and respect for the patient’s security and privacy in the medical industry.
While we wait for the medical industry to put more emphasis on the patient’s privacy, the only two things that we can really do to ensure our own safety and security is to take it into our own hands by employing identity security resources and try to work with organizations that have a forward-thinking policy on a patient’s data. This second point might not always be possible, which is why the first step is so important.
What You Can Do
Talk with your doctor about confidentiality is one important step, as is requesting a copy of your own medical records so that you can be certain that they are accurate and that you know what they contain. You should also take the time to register a complaint when you feel that your information has been improperly disclosed through a data breach. The only way that changes will be made within the medical industry is to make sure that the demand for change is clear.