There are many things we need to be concerned about to avoid any identity theft and lose a significant amount of money. Social Security Numbers, bank accounts, credit cards, insurance, and even driver’s license need to be monitored continuously to make sure these are safe and sound. Another kind of theft has been increasing rapidly in numbers – medical identity theft. However, what are the problems associated with medical identity theft, and what can hospitals do to ensure that their patient data is safe and secure from such events? Let’s explore.
What is medical identity theft?
As a refresher, medical identity theft occurs whenever an unauthorized person takes the credentials of a patient without the latter’s knowledge and uses it for personal gain. It can be used to obtain healthcare services such as prescription drugs, treatment, as well as medical equipment. Also, as we can see in the recent news, criminals are actively targeting medical data of patients, which has contributed to the meteoric rise of medical identity theft. These cause the patients to receive medical bills with shocking numbers – tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of services can be used or stolen by the criminals. One hundred seventy-one million patient records were exposed online, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. On the other hand, the reputed Ponemon Institute estimates that patients pay around $13,500 either for the fixes or for the services used by the culprits.
How does it affect patients and hospitals?
Other than the previously mentioned financial impacts medical identity theft has on patients, it affects them in different ways as well. According to the Ponemon Institute, 3% of the patients were fired, 19% lost potential jobs. In contrast, a considerable number of patients faced embarrassment due to the exposure of sensitive healthcare data – all of which happened due to medical identity theft. It can also cause the medical data of the culprits to be embedded into the patient record. For instance, when a victim goes to their providers for healthcare services, the patient might be given treatment based on the culprit’s preferences, interfering with the preferences of the actual patient.
For hospitals, medical identity theft is equally damaging, if not worse. Half of the patients will switch their healthcare providers if their medical identities are stolen, according to the Ponemon Institute. Such an event would also impact their reputation, cause losses in millions due to denied claims, and so on. All in all, medical identity theft is a problem for everyone involved and can be very costly to fix.
How do hospitals prevent medical identity theft?
Many safeguards can prevent medical identity theft, but none are as effective as RightPatient. It is a biometric patient identification platform that ensures that the medical records are locked with the biometric data of the patients. The platform takes the biometric data such as fingerprints or irises of the patients and attaches them with the medical records. Without biometric verification, the records cannot be accessed by unauthorized parties, ensuring no medical identity theft takes place. RightPatient also ensures patient safety – the platform provides accurate medical records within seconds of scanning the patients’ biometric data. It reduces denied claims, improves revenue cycle, and saves hospitals and patients from unnecessary costs. Several pioneering healthcare providers like Terrebonne General Medical Center and Novant Health are using RightPatient. They are reducing denied claims, preventing medical identity theft, improving revenue cycle, and enhancing patient safety.