Hospital and health facility administrators have faced criminals with the ability to hack medical records with ever-increasing sophistication. Hackers gain access to critical information, such as medical claims, financial data, Social Security numbers and credit card data that enable identity theft, credit card fraud and other privacy breaches. One of the major security failures in the news was the CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield attack that exposed 1.1 million of its members to thefts of their personal information. Combined with high-profile breaches at Anthem and Premera Blue Cross, the breach illustrates the changing role of medical administrators who often need to become expert security professionals in addition to their medical duties.
Health records are tempting targets for criminals who can sell them for up to 10 times as much as stolen credit card information. Even patients who are usually law-abiding might try to steal medical identities when their families face over-the-top medical expenses and treatment costs.
Security Breaches in Healthcare
Medical identity theft is big business, but these transgressions can generate multiple threats that go beyond financial considerations. In fact, these thefts can be deadly when patients receive the wrong blood type in transfusions or get prescribed drugs that fatally interact with medications that the patients are already taking.
Removing any inaccurate information from patient records could take years and cost medical companies in all types of ways — from administrative costs to malpractice lawsuits. High-profile breaches in personal medical data continue to increase and are often low-tech — criminals grabbing an unguarded laptop, phishing scams or people getting access to hard copies of medical records.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that more than 29 million breaches of information security in healthcare occurred between 2010 and 2013. The recent hacking of the major insurance companies Anthem and Premera Blue Cross generated record breaches that dwarfed the JAMA study figures by exposing more than 90 million records to criminals in just a few months. The JAMA study also revealed that there have been more than 1,000 major breaches since 2010, and of these, one-third occurred in five populous states: Florida, California, New York, Texas and Illinois.
Long-Term Costs of Security Breaches in Healthcare
Although some administrators view shredding and other outsourced security services as nonessential luxuries, the costs of breaches of information security in healthcare can generate long-term expenses, losses of clients and damage to your company’s good name. CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has found it expedient to offer all new account members free credit card and identity theft monitoring services for at least two years, a substantial increase in the cost of doing business. These long-term costs of breaches of trust can make simple security safeguards seem like bargains at any price.
Protecting Your Facility
Budgets face almost as many attacks as customer databases in today’s competitive medical industries. Health organizations often struggle with limited administrative budgets, and “potential” breaches often give way to more immediate budgetary needs in an environment where the loudest, most OCD practitioners really do get the best antibiotic soap. Fortunately, hospital, clinics and medical companies can get affordable shredding services in the Tampa Bay area from Brooksville in the north to Lakeland in the west and Osprey in the south.
Proshred Tampa provides on-site and off-site shredding services throughout this coverage area that can save medical administrators up to 25 percent of the cost of handling document-shredding and hard-drive destruction services in-house. Proshred’s services include shredding at special events, one-time or regular service and flat-fee container shredding without the usual travel fees, out-of-schedule service fees and management fees that drive some security providers’ fees to unsustainable levels.