The move, in part prompted by the Affordable Care Act, to digitize patient records has dramatically expanded the amount of sensitive data available to hackers. Breaches at medical facilities have been increasing and are expected to continue. The value of data often kept in digital patient records is very high to hackers. Nearly everything needed to steal someone’s identity is in their medical records. And patient payment information can contain credit card information and other financial data.
A recent report in iHealthBeat indicates that as many as 1 in 10 US residents has been affected by breaches of healthcare data. HIPAA required reports indicate that there have been more than 30,000 reports of privacy breaches, the majority of which resulted in corrective action.
Enforcement of the law is expected to increase the fines and other penalties against medical organizations and practitioners who fail to protect patient data. Fines in excess of 10 million dollars have been levied in just the past year, but are expected to rise significantly in the next year. Medical facilities and practitioners are well advised to review their compliance with HIPAA and their patient data security program.