People care about the security of their patient data

How well do you think your patient data, wherever it is located, is being secured? How well do you think your healthcare providers (doctors, nurses, hospitals, clinics, etc.) and health insurance companies are securing your patient information?

The fact is, with the increasing occurrences of patient data breaches, and more use of patient data for purposes beyond the provision of healthcare, most people are worried about patient data security.

People care about the security of their patient data

People may seem like they don’t care based upon what is posted to social media sites. But keep in mind that the core concept of privacy is being in control of how your personal information is collected, used, shared, accessed and secured. As shown in Figure 1, most responding recently to a poll I provided throughout October and November indicated they are concerned about the security of their patient information.

Figure 1 – October November 2015 Patient Data Security Poll Results

Oct Nov 2015 Privacy Professor Patient Data Security Poll

It was interesting to see that the distribution of answers remained constant from the beginning of the poll to the end; with some interesting results.

Patient data is used for other purposes

Most folks I speak with are amazed at the growing ways in which patient health data that has historically only been used by healthcare providers is now being collected by a very wide number of organizations through the many fitness wearables, medical devices and mobile apps in new ways that were never imaged. Consider just a few of these ways that what has historically been considered to be patient data are now being collected and used for more than treatment purposes:

The data is going to continue to proliferate exponentially in the coming years. Just consider fitness tracker wearables. Currently 10.2 percent of the U.S. population (25.1 million) uses them. It is projected that by 2019 over 33 percent of the U.S. population, from newborns to those over 100 years old, will be using them. That is a lot of health data being sucked up on a continuous basis. And most of those fitness wearable vendors will be sending that data to many others beyond the cloud service that the wearers are using to give them their fitness diagnostics.

Patient data breaches are increasing

Concerns about the security of patient data are not unfounded. Consider the following:

The range of breach sizes illustrates that any size of organization with healthcare data, from a 1-person business to a gigantic healthcare insurer with over one hundred thousand employees, is susceptible to a privacy breach of patient data. And the small to midsize organizations are likely more at risk given 77 percent of them do not have formal, written information security policies for employees to follow, and 41 percent do not have necessary security technologies implemented.

It is no wonder considering patient data is much more valuable than other types of personal data. Recent research shows that patient health data is ten times more valuable than credit card numbers

Improving patient data security

There are many security and privacy concerns for patient health data. Four primary concerns include:

If your organization collects health and patient data, not only do you need to comply with all applicable legal requirements, such as those within HIPAA CEs and their BAs and subcontractors, but you also need to ensure you have a strong privacy and security program. And always remember, people care about the security of their patient data

For more information about strengthening your privacy and security program to better protect patient data, see the following:

dell_blue_rgbThis post was written as part of the Dell Insight Partners program, which provides news and analysis about the evolving world of tech. Dell sponsored this article, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell’s positions or strategies.

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