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June 20, 2016

Preventing Medical Identity Theft

Preventing Medical Identity Theft

Medical identity theft is growing at a faster rate than any other identity crime in America. Data breaches of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Humana both show the threat this type of crime poses to citizens of Atlanta.

Document security services in the form of hard drive destruction and physical document shredding are some of the only means Atlanta citizens have to fight back against this trend. Any time sensitive information is left to linger in either physical or digital form, the potential for theft becomes greater by the second.

Do not risk placing your patients in the crosshairs of such criminals or the chance that your organization could be found at fault for lax document security practices. Enlist the help of professional document security professionals to put everyone’s minds further at ease.

The Wrath of HIPAA

The consequences of allowing data to fall into the wrong hands can quite literally cost your organization. Even if a breach is the result of a mistake, should that employee be found negligent they and their employer could face stiff fines.

How stiff? The maximum penalty can be as much as $50,000 per incident or $1.5 million per year. This category also represents the lowest possible level of penalty. If an employee is found to be “willfully neglectful” through reckless actions or disregard for stated compliance, the minimum is $10,000 per violation presuming that the issue has been corrected within the required period of time. When the issue is not corrected, that minimum skyrockets to $50,000 per violation with an allowable annual maximum of $1.5 million.

As you can see, an employee does not have to be a criminal or have malicious intent in order to cost your healthcare organization dearly. The federal government takes patient privacy very seriously, which has been one of the driving factors in the push towards electronic health records. Even with efforts like heavy data encryption and security, something as basic as allowing a hard drive or stack of forms to linger in the wrong spot for too long can easily bankrupt most practices or peripheral medical businesses.

How to Remain Compliant?

While being fully-compliant with HIPAA involves thorough knowledge of all their security guidelines, healthcare businesses can start by protecting the vestiges of data left in no-longer-used documents and hard drives. A paper shred service can lessen the risk of using physical forms for patient registration or information printouts. Mobile shredding trucks can even come to you to destroy thousands of pounds of documents in mere minutes. There is even no need to remove staples, brads, and the like.

For computers with stored health records on them, simply “wiping” the memory is not an option. Resourceful technically-minded criminals can still access supposedly deleted files and piece together patient profiles with relatively scattered information. Complete hard drive destruction is the only option to safely eliminate all chances of sensitive information being recovered.

Consider either of these two services in conjunction with data security to protect your patients and your business from the very real consequences of medical identity theft.

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