Have you had your healthcare data breached? If so, you’re not alone. According to new results from the consulting and strategy company Accenture, one in every four people has had their healthcare information stolen. And of those people, one in two had their identity stolen.
And identity piracy isn’t cheap, the average cost of those surveyed who had their identity stolen was around $2,700. Such a price may seem high for those of us who have had our credit card breached. You know: That $600 charge on your Visa to a Party City in a state you’ve never been to is usually wiped clean from your statement in a few days. That’s because the credit card companies have a legal obligation to card holders who’ve lost over $50. For losses in healthcare-related identity theft, the victims have no such automatic protection.
The survey included 2,000 respondents and was conducted by Nielsen for Accenture. It’s important to point out that this survey doesn’t show causality of identify theft – in other words, we don’t really know if incidents of identify theft were because of health data breaches. Nonetheless, it does highlight the potential vulnerabilities to which patients are being exposed through health IT systems.
In a press release, the managing director of cybersecurity for Accenture, Reza Chapman, stated that:
“Health systems need to recognize that many patients will suffer personal financial loss from cyberattacks of their medical information … Not only do health organizations need to stay vigilant in safeguarding personal information, they need to build a foundation of digital trust with patients to help weather the storm of a breach.”
And where does this occur most frequently? In hospitals.
In fact, 36 percent of respondents said that the theft happened there. Other scenes of the digital crime include urgent-care clinics, pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and health insurers. And half of all of those in the survey claimed they found the activity themselves by looking at a credit card statement or noticing a discrepancy in their bills.
Those committing the theft usually used their illicit windfalls to purchase items. But many had more nefarious schemes like filling prescriptions (26%) or modifying health records (12%).
Still, consumers show lots of trust as “significantly more consumers still trust their healthcare provider (88%) and payer (82%) to keep their healthcare data secure than trust health technology companies (57%) or the government (56%) to do so.”