Healthcare Data Breaches Rise Along with Consumer Concerns of Privacy and Data Security

By Art Gross, President and CEO, HIPAA Secure Now!
Twitter: @HIPAASecureNow

A recent survey conducted by the health insurance company Aetna revealed some significant results as to what consumers consider to be their most important concern in terms of healthcare. According to the survey of 1,000 consumers, concerns of patient privacy and data security are more important than the cost of care.

80% of survey respondents indicated that privacy was a top concern regarding their health care, while 76% of individuals felt the same high level of concern for their data security.

With data breaches on the rise and showing no signs of slowing down, it appears consumers are putting their worries in the right place when it comes to their healthcare.

Looking at healthcare data breaches reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR), it appears that the number of individuals affected by healthcare data breaches is increasing dramatically.

The first three months of 2018 (Q1), revealed over one million patients and health plan members were affected by a healthcare data breach, in comparison to Q4 of 2017, which saw 520,141 affected individuals.

Looking at the Q2 2018 Protenus Breach Barometer, we see even more drastic results, further proving that healthcare privacy and data security should be a top concern for all consumers. According to the Breach Barometer, Q2 of 2018 saw a total of 3.14 million patient records; a massive increase over Q1 by 2 million patient records!

In addition, the Protenus report found that nearly 30% of the privacy violations in Q2 of 2018 were caused by repeat offenders from within the organization.

The Protenus report also found that 9.21 out of 1000 employees breached patient privacy in Q2 of 2018, another increase from Q1 which reported 5.08 out of 1000 employees violated patient privacy. According to the report, the most common insider-related patient privacy violation was a result of family member snooping.

These findings outline why consumers feel privacy and data security are of higher concern than the cost of their healthcare. In addition, the increase in breaches, increase in individuals affected by breaches and increase in individuals violating patient privacy demonstrate a critical need for routine security awareness training and education for all employees in the healthcare industry.

This article was originally published on HIPAA Secure Now! and is republished here with permission. HIPAA Secure Now offers annual online subscriptions to help covered entities and business associates keep up with compliance. Learn more here.