Keeping Healthcare Information Safe
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States and around the world for one simple reason: it is easy to do. With just a few records, anyone can assume a new identity, take on that person’s finances, and even seek out medical treatment that is needed. It all happens under the radar until that fateful moment when the bill arrives and someone says, “I didn’t receive that medical procedure!”
Keeping healthcare information safe is critically important to preventing medical identity theft. Technology, unfortunately, isn’t being updated as quickly as it could be. For some agencies, that means big fines.
Millions of Dollars in Fines Have Been Paid For Inadequate Medical IT
There have been some major fines issued against healthcare industry giants over the past few years because of their failure to protect patient records or follow patient rights laws. For example:
1. BCBS of Tennessee was fined $1.5 million because it failed to protect several HDD’s that had confidential patient information stored on them.
2. CVS was fined $2.25 million because of their inability to properly secure patient data from theft.
3. Cignet Health was fined $4.3 million because they refused to provide patient records to people upon request, and then refused to cooperate in the investigation that was done into the claims of failing to provide records.
The problem, however, is that for many healthcare agencies, paying these fines is actually cheaper than upgrading their IT situation to be in compliance. That’s why an incentive plan has been created.
Upgrade Your Records and Make Some Bank!
To help offset the costs of upgrading to a better IT network and developing policies and procedures that can help keep patient records safe from identity theft, incentives are available to individual providers and organizations. Companies can receive up to $2 million in funding to help upgrade their facilities and even individual providers can qualify for up to $44,000 in incentives.
Going to electronic charts saves money in the long term as well – a typical savings is $6 per chart. The final incentive to help providers transition into more secure systems is that beginning in 2015, Medicare reimbursements will begin to be reduced for providers that cannot show meaningful use of an electronic medical record system that can become as high as a 95% reduction by 2018.
What Is the Key To Being in Compliance?
The best thing for healthcare providers to do right now is to prevent data breaches in realistic ways. That means using encryption protocols, keeping sensitive patient records off of the internet, and having policies and procedures in place to limit HIPAA violations. If a provider can do that as they transition to a more secure IT platform, then chances are good that healthcare costs can be reduced because it is cheaper to maintain electronic records.
If not… then the provider could lose up to 95% of Medicaid funding. The choice is clear – demand your provider protect your information so that your identity can remain your own.