Less than half of Americans worry about personal health data security

06 Aug 2018 | SOURCE: Healthcare Dive



Dive Brief:

  • Americans are far less concerned about the security of their personal health data than breaches of financial information, a new SCOUT Rare Insights survey shows.
  • Just under half (49%) of adults said they are extremely or very concerned about security of lab results, diagnoses and other health information, compared with 69% who said they are extremely or very concerned about the safety of their financial data.
  • The news comes as healthcare organizations continue to face regular cyber threats and data security concerns.


Dive Insight:

As healthcare organizations amass more and more patient data and patients are pushed to engage with EHRs and patient portals, providers and payers will need to do more to make people aware of best practices and risks.

A study by Accenture and the American Medical Association found that four out of five physicians have experienced a cybersecurity attack. More than half worried such attacks could undermine patient safety, and roughly three-fourths thought future attacks could disrupt their clinical practices and compromise patient records.

In a recent Ponemon Institute survey, 62% of healthcare leaders said their organization experienced a cyberattack in the past year, and more than half said the event resulted in loss of patient data. Patient medical records and patient billing information were the top two targets of hackers.

In February, Partners HealthCare notified 2,600 patients that their personal information may have been compromised when an unauthorized third party introduced malware into its computer system. Banner Health contacted 3.7 million people in August 2016 to reveal that a cyberattack may have exposed their personal data.

“We need to be much more aware and concerned about the safety of our health data,” Raffi Siyahian, principal at SCOUT, said in a statement. “First, the risk of having our medical data exposed is pretty significant. And second, the consequences of someone gaining unauthorized access to your personal health information can be far more damaging than having someone illegally access your personal financial information.”

He noted that banks are typically quick to alert customer when their financial information is stolen, whereas breaches of healthcare data often aren’t spotted for months or years.

“We need to guard and monitor our health insurance cards and medical service statements as rigorously as we guard and monitor our credit cards and bank statements,” Siyahian said.

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