By Megan Williams, contributing writer
Experian has released its 2015 Second Annual Data Breach Industry Forecast, a report that provides insight into the changing state of healthcare data security as the industry faces a new year. Reports like this one will be of increasing interest to your clients, as organizational leaders begin to realize the impact that data security and breaches have on their overall organizational health. The report states: “Board members and the C-suite can no longer ignore the drastic impact a data breach has on company reputation. Meanwhile, consumers are demanding more communication and remedies from businesses after a data breach occurs. As a result, the topic is one of the highest priorities facing businesses and regulators in 2015.”
The Threat To Healthcare
Healthcare, as an industry, is opening its doors to more attacks, just as information is becoming more valuable on the criminal circuit. The advent of EHRs (electronic health records) and increase in use of wearable technology has meant amazing new uses of data in regard to health, but it’s also meant more access points for cybercriminals.
The report indicates that it fully expects breaches to increase in 2015, and that many organizations (doctors’ offices, hospitals, and clinics) simply may not have enough resources to properly protect PHI (protected health information) — and they know it. According to a survey by the Ponemon institute, 72 percent of healthcare organizations indicated they are only “somewhat confident” or “not confident” in the security and privacy of patient data that travels via HIE. It’s expected that the cost of breaches next year could reach $5.6 billion.
Experian recommends that healthcare organizations “step up their security posture and data breach preparedness,” or face the risk of not only breaches, but increased attention and scrutiny from federal regulators who are beginning to turn an eye the costly danger of an unprotected healthcare system.
Medical Identity Theft
The report makes a special call-out to the dangers of medical identity theft on page seven. Experian is working with organizations like the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA) to start making headway in addressing this issue.
Ann Patterson, senior vice president of the alliance, weighs in: “Medical identity theft is a serious threat that needs to be prioritized by healthcare organizations, regulatory groups and consumers. There is no single solution for fraud prevention, meaning we must take a collaborative approach to solving the issue. Industry and government must work together to develop holistic strategies pertinent to the fight against fraud, and consumers should take an active role in advocating for system-wide reform.”