Healthcare Data Security: Less of a Concern for U.S. Adults than Threats to Financial Information

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

Our healthcare data holds a multitude of sensitive information regarding our personal lives. That information could include our full name, date of birth, home address, health history, diagnoses, and test results to name a few pieces of information. While we know the data contained in our healthcare records is quite extensive, less than half of U.S. adults indicate they are extremely or very concerned about the security of their healthcare data; that is, according to a survey of over 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of SCOUT healthcare marketing firm.

Among the concern for healthcare data security, 31% of U.S. adults responded that the exposure of their diagnosed medical conditions and diseases was their top concern when it comes to mishandled information or information shared without their consent.

Americans – less concerned about their healthcare data than their financial information
Let’s compare healthcare security concerns to those of financial information. According to the SCOUT poll, a significantly higher number of U.S. adults show deep concern regarding the security of their financial information than they do about their healthcare data. In fact, a surprising 69% of U.S. adults indicated they are extremely or very concerned about the security of their personal financial information; a 20% increase over concern for healthcare data.

Healthcare data breaches are on the rise, and with medical records generating top dollar on the dark web, it is unlikely that the trend will come to a halt anytime soon. With medical records holding and even increasing in value, all Americans should feel concerned when it comes to the security of their healthcare data.

Understanding the value of healthcare data
It is important to understand what exactly is at stake when it comes to healthcare data. Medical identity theft is a thriving market and stolen medical records can be used in a variety of ways. In some cases, cybercriminals may use their victim’s records to steal their identity completely. They could also use their stolen data to commit medication fraud, financial fraud, insurance fraud, and tax fraud.

Medication fraud can be committed by using a patient’s name and information to obtain prescription drugs. Criminals may also purchase expensive medical services or equipment using a fake ID number, which could potentially result in insurance and tax fraud.

We need to be much more aware and concerned about the safety of our health data,” said Raffi Siyahian, principal at SCOUT. “First, the risk of having your medical data exposed is pretty significant. And second, the consequences of someone gaining unauthorized access to your personal health information can be far more damaging than having someone illegally access your personal financial information.”

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.