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4 Promising Health IT Practices That Improve Patient Outcomes

The pandemic, when it hit the U.S., spurred its healthcare providers to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape it forced on everyone. Hospitals and health systems had to search, come up with, and implement drastically different practices that many experts thought weren’t possible. Just look at telehealth – its future was quite uncertain. However, during the pandemic, both its popularity and usage skyrocketed as hospitals and health systems relied on it to provide care to non-critical patients without risking the latter’s safety. That’s just one example – there are similar promising health IT practices that are trending and set to grow in the future and improve patient outcomes in the process. Let’s take a detailed look at some of the more popular health IT practices that can improve quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

4 trending health IT practices that help improve patient outcomes

The increased role of IT teams

As the pandemic forced healthcare providers to switch from in-person visits to virtual ones, implement practices to aid remote work, and ensure that data management is accurate, it was the IT teams’ responsibility to ensure that everything went smoothly. Moreover, cybersecurity attacks were higher than ever since providers already had their hands full.

CIOs and their IT teams not only had their hands full during the pandemic but they also had added responsibilities and expanded roles to play. As COVID-19 cases are decreasing, healthcare providers are aiming for a different approach to providing better and safer healthcare services to improve patient outcomes in the process. As a result, CIOs and relevant IT personnel are in huge demand.

Talking about cybersecurity, let’s move on to the next point.

A much-needed focus on ramping up cybersecurity

As previously mentioned, hackers had upped their game last year. While many hackers had promised not to attack healthcare due to the unprecedented crisis, not all hackers shared the same sentiments. Unfortunately, many of them did attack while healthcare providers had their hands full with COVID-19 cases. This not only led to them stealing patient information and selling it to fraudsters on the dark web, but many incidents also disrupted healthcare operations. In fact, the IT systems of many hospitals were rendered unresponsive or slow as the information within the systems was locked and not available for use.

So, what did healthcare providers do to mitigate the issues? 

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Well, many of the hospitals saw what their contemporaries were going through and opted for better cybersecurity practices. While getting a new cybersecurity solution includes several impediments, hospitals opted for simpler solutions. For instance, many had cut off access to external emails whereas others focused on stricter screening of external emails. 

However, while data breaches seem inevitable and as most caregivers cannot upgrade their cybersecurity solutions due to various reasons, they CAN prevent the endgame of most data breaches – medical identity theft. For instance, RightPatient prevents medical identity theft in real-time by identifying fraudsters during the registration process. The patient identification platform can prevent fraudsters from accessing services even if the data is breached, reducing litigation costs. 

With cybersecurity attacks at an all-time high, it looks like healthcare providers are thankfully changing their approach and are working to rectify security gaps by providing better training to employees regarding cybersecurity practices, going for a proactive approach rather than a reactive one, and by hiring competent security professionals – helping enhance patient outcomes in the process. 

Expanded telehealth usage

Is the rapid growth of telehealth even surprising at this point? 

Before the pandemic, telehealth didn’t have a bright future. Apparently, it has been around for a long time, but experts were busy talking about its demerits, patients were wary of it, and there was a lack of consistent interest. As a result, telehealth was collecting dust, figuratively speaking. However, the pandemic changed everything – it showed how useful telehealth was. As regulations were relaxed around telehealth, it helped reach more patients and provide care to the non-critical ones, rapidly expanding its userbase.

Telehealth was one of the most trending health IT topics last year, and it still is reigning, as many actually prefer telehealth over in-person visits now and have said they will continue to use it even after the public health emergency is over.

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Many healthcare providers, as a result, are going for a hybrid approach. They are planning to offer both in-person and virtual care, providing the best of both worlds to their patients. Not only will this help increase patient satisfaction, but it will also speed up processes and keep the patient volume down during in-person visits, something that’s quite necessary as the pandemic is not over yet, helping improve patient outcomes.

Utilizing contactless solutions can improve patient outcomes

There’s always been growing interest in contactless solutions for any given industry, but the pandemic has pushed it to the forefront – virtually everyone knows the risks of physical contact now. Therefore, many are developing contactless solutions for healthcare facilities that can reduce hospital-acquired infections and improve patient safety. However, did you know that such a solution has been in use for several years in many hospitals and health systems?

RightPatient, our touchless biometric patient identification platform, has been serving several healthcare providers for years, and it only requires patients to look at the camera. The platform does the rest and provides the accurate EHR to the registrar – improving patient safety, preventing duplicates and overlays, and reducing medical errors in the process. As previously mentioned, it also helps prevent medical ID theft in real-time by red-flagging fraudsters during the registration process.

That was just an example of how a touchless solution has been transforming patient safety in several ways – there are more solutions on the way that can improve patient outcomes and boost the bottom lines in the process.

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Protecting Patient Data Is Crucial – 2.7 Million Patients Were Affected this May

Even before the pandemic, protecting patient data has been a big headache for most healthcare providers. This is mostly because cybersecurity measures employed by most hospitals are not state of the art, which means hackers constantly attempt to break in and steal patient data, many cases ended up in lawsuits, and cost hospitals a lot of money as well as cause patient safety issues down the line. However, during the pandemic, there have been cases of data breaches, and just last month (May), around 2.7 million people were affected by them collectively. Let’s take a look at how some of these happened, how most of these cases lead to medical identity theft, and how the latter can be stopped in real-time with a positive patient identification platform.

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Some very recent data breach cases that show protecting patient data is crucial

While ransomware has been a major component of data breaches in recent times, phishing and other tactics are also used and are still some of the primary tools employed by hackers during breaches. Let’s take a look at some of the recent cases that have been filed in May – you can view the full list here.

HPSJ’s email breach affected over 420,000 medical records

Health Plan of San Joaquin suffered a breach that occurred because unauthorized personnel had gained access to the provider’s email system. This occurred back in 2020 and, after inspection, it was discovered that this affected a number of official emails. While password reset was mandated on the accounts, it might have been too late, and it was found that this happened between the end of September and the middle of October last year. Moreover, after a thorough review, it was detected that over 420,000 patients’ information was compromised, and it included names, addresses, SSNs, and more. While it has been said that there has been no misuse of the information yet, HPSJ itself is being cautious since it knows that the breached information might be used in the future for medical identity theft. 

Arizona Asthma and Allergy Institute suffered a breach that compromised 50,000 patients

This one is a bit vague since there is no concrete information as to how it happened. However, the Arizona-based institution has stated that PHI (protected health information) of up to 50,000 individuals was “temporarily exposed online” under the name of a different organization back in September 2020. 

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It took till March 8 2021 to uncover that sensitive information was compromised including – last names, healthcare provider names, health insurance information, and patient identification numbers.

Just like the last case, there is no hard evidence that the compromised information has been misused – yet. However, the institute has notified affected patients to monitor their statements for fraudulent activities arising from medical identity theft. 

These were just two examples – around 35 hospitals and healthcare organizations such as Arizona Asthma and Allergy Institute, CareSouth Carolina, New England Dermatology, and more, were hit by similar breaches, affecting around 2.7 million individuals! This clearly shows how many people data breaches can affect and how they are becoming increasingly common and inevitable. But why are hackers focused on data breaches and why do they target healthcare? 

Data breaches – why target healthcare and what happens next

Well, hackers typically steal information in order to sell it in the black market, and in the U.S. the most profitable information is medical records. You see, stolen patient information can be sold for up to $1000. Compared to selling stolen credit card information, that’s a lot, which is why more hackers focus on healthcare. Moreover, healthcare providers have a lot of constraints which prevent them from utilizing the best cybersecurity practices, leading to data breaches. 

After the breach, when the hackers try to sell off the information on the black market, there are many individuals who are willing to buy it. Since buying the information for $1000 is cheaper than paying for their own healthcare, many fraudsters find this feasible. Afterward, they pose as the patients when they go to the hospitals. Unfortunately, as these fraudsters are armed with the information and since there’s no accurate patient identifier used by the caregivers, most of these bad actors get access and avail healthcare services fraudulently. 

Protecting patient data is possible even after a breach 

While most healthcare providers focus on protecting patient data before data breaches, others utilize innovative solutions to protect it after breaches too. Most of the fraudsters can be red-flagged and medical identity theft can be prevented if a proper patient identification platform is used, and that’s exactly what RightPatient does. 

Whenever fraudsters come in, they need to verify their identity, and RightPatient validates that by comparing the live photo with the saved one. When it detects that the fraudster’s face does not match with the saved one, it red-flags them, preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

RightPatient prevents medical identity theft, reduces denied claims, ensures accurate patient identification, enhances patient safety, and more – would your facility benefit from this solution to protect patient information and prevent millions in losses?

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Is Patient Information Protection Possible With Rising Cybersecurity Threats?

Healthcare is always in the spotlight – mostly because of the wrong reasons. Some of the many topics that often come up when discussing healthcare issues are data breaches, medical identity theft, the lack of interoperability, the lack of patient information protection measures, patient identification issues, among other things.

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However, due to the pandemic, telehealth has become a mainstream tool to provide patient care outside of healthcare facilities. While telehealth has been an extremely useful medium for caregivers and patients, there are valid concerns regarding its security. Moreover, even before that, cybersecurity threats have been growing considerably for the last few years.

That being said, let’s take a closer look at the recent state of healthcare data breaches, how the data were obtained from hospitals, and if patient information protection is possible.

The pandemic showed patient information protection measures were not enough

When the pandemic started, healthcare providers in the US had their hands full – not only did they have their usual problems to tackle, but also they had to deal with the surge of COVID-19 cases that overwhelmed their facilities. Quite naturally, healthcare frontline teams, facilities, and anyone else involved with them was pushed to their limits. Fortunately, there was a ray of hope when many hackers pledged that they won’t focus on hospitals since they were facing the biggest challenge in decades. However, not all the hackers shared the same sentiment – many chose to attack during this vulnerable period. 

For instance, by the end of 2020, many hospitals and health systems were victims of a wave of cybersecurity attacks that left them paralyzed. The attacks forced them out of their systems – disrupting healthcare operations until the hackers’ demands were met. Moreover, even prominent health systems took days to restore and operate normally.

Others were handicapped, and while not fully locked out of their systems, these caregivers were unable to provide accurate healthcare services too. For instance, they had read-only access to patient records, meaning that they couldn’t update the records themselves, which is usually done after seeing the patient (virtually or otherwise). As a result, a lot of scheduled visits, surgeries, and elective procedures had to be stalled or postponed. Cyberattacks ultimately harmed the bottom lines of affected hospitals. However, all of these attacks, delays, and threats led to the conclusion that patient information protection must be upgraded significantly to ensure quality and safety in healthcare.

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How patient information is typically protected

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is primarily focused on protecting patient information from internal and external threats or data breaches. It applies to any organizations (known as business associates) that deal with patient information or PHI (protected health information). HIPAA even has a Breach Notification Rule that provides guidelines for hospitals that suffer breaches. Unfortunately, there are many cases where HIPAA violations do occur, leading to hefty fines and loss of goodwill.

But how do hospitals typically ensure patient information protection? 

Well, different healthcare providers have different guidelines, budgets, constraints, and advantages. However, some of the more common ways hospitals and health systems protect patient information are:

  • Having a robust policy in place
  • Developing a culture that focuses on protecting patient information
  • Regularly providing training to staff members that access patient information
  • Performing internal audits
  • Having a security improvement plan in place 
  • Monitoring access and restricting unauthorized individuals
  • Pursuing HIPAA compliance
  • Encrypting patient information both in transit and at rest

Patient information protection needs an upgrade

While the aforementioned were some of the common security safeguards hospitals use to protect patient information, the pandemic showed the flaws of the existing cybersecurity measures. Also, another factor to consider is that not every healthcare provider has state-of-the-art cybersecurity measures in place – many are restricted by budgetary issues, bureaucracy, and current priorities their leaders have.

Telehealth raised security concerns

Moreover, telehealth has changed the rules. When the pandemic struck the US in full force, it forced the government to relax rules regarding virtual visits. While this was to make telehealth easier for patients and caregivers, it also opened doors for hackers. Cybersecurity experts were understandably worried about frauds – they already occur during inpatient visits, what about virtual ones? 

As a result, due to ever-increasing cyberattacks, healthcare data breaches seem inevitable, don’t they? However, their effects can be mitigated by preventing medical identity theft – that’s where RightPatient comes in. 

RightPatient can mitigate the effects of data breaches

A robust patient identification platform used by leading providers, RightPatient locks EHRs with patients’ photos and their biometric data upon enrollment. During subsequent visits, patients only need to look at the camera – the platform runs a search, and, upon a positive match, provides the accurate EHR within seconds. Fraudsters are red-flagged during the verification process, preventing medical identity theft in real-time and protecting patient information.

RightPatient is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the care continuum – making it feasible for telehealth sessions. Responsible caregivers have been using the platform for years now – are you one of them? 

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4 Practices Regarding Telemedicine That Enhance Patient Protection

COVID-19 is a phenomenon that will impact us for years to come, if not decades. It has shaken the entire world to its core and has changed everything we know. COVID-19 affected our daily lives, changed the way we interact with others, and made masks as well as sanitizers crucial necessities. Since many of the COVID-19 patients required urgent care, the US healthcare system had to come up with other ways for hospitals to serve non-COVID-19 patients without exposing them to the virus. Fortunately, tailor-made solutions already existed – telehealth and telemedicine being the biggest players. As a result, hospitals have been diverting a significant portion of their non-critical patients to virtual sessions – changing healthcare and the patient experience forever. That being said, let’s explore what the patients think about telehealth, what experts are saying about it, and how to ensure patient protection while improving quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

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How telemedicine came into play

Since the novel coronavirus hit the US, it has been overwhelming healthcare providers, their frontline teams, and virtually everyone who is involved in the caregiving process. Due to capacity restrictions and patient safety concerns, caregivers had to redirect at least one-third of their less critical patients to telemedicine. Naturally, its usage shot up significantly in the beginning, and while it has been declining for some time, it is expected to increase as COVID-19 cases are once again rising. The bottom line is that telemedicine and telehealth are here to stay, although some issues need to be addressed.

Let’s take a look at what over a million end users, i.e. patients, think of telemedicine, according to a recent survey by Press Ganey.

Patients’ perceptions regarding telemedicine

The first thing to highlight is that while most patients do appreciate the convenience telemedicine offers, it has a lot of wrinkles to iron out to make it seamless and more effective.

The good things

While many patients were being exposed to virtual visits for the first time, they did find it satisfactory. Many even said that they were likely to give good ratings to their caregivers after virtual visits, just as much as they would during inpatient ones. Telemedicine could successfully lead to a bond between the patient and the physician, and many patients felt that their physicians were more attentive during these virtual sessions. A patient even noted that during inpatient visits doctors would be looking at their computer screens anyway, which felt like they were distracted. During the virtual visits, however, the doctor had direct eye contact with her. 

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What needs improvement

While telemedicine itself is good, the process and ease of getting to virtual visits are not – these need significant improvements, especially with scheduling sessions and making audio or video connections.

However, there are a few more issues that require attention which, according to experts, might hamper patient protection – let’s dive in.

Experts are worried about patient protection

Healthcare data breaches have been increasing significantly, and are occurring even now. Moreover, the risk of a breach is higher during virtual sessions, ultimately endangering patient data. Healthcare providers need to strengthen their security measures and ensure patient protection during virtual visits. With restrictions eased regarding communication tools like Zoom, Skype, and similar utilities, as well as hackers turning their attention to virtual sessions, patient data security is at more risk than ever.

Practices that improve patient protection during virtual visits

Provide training and ensure awareness 

There is nothing more effective than raising awareness among your employees, and the best way to do this is by providing them with training. Clearly explain to them the consequences of data breaches, and also provide them with sessions where they can learn about the do’s and don’ts regarding emails, opening links, accessing patient data, etc.

Follow practices that safeguard patient information

Encrypting data might be the oldest trick in the book, but it can make it difficult for hackers to use the information.

A few practices must be followed to ensure patient protection during both virtual and inpatient visits:

  • Ensure that patient data is encrypted during rest and transmission.
  • Use reputed antivirus and firewall applications.
  • Use only verified and licensed software and keep them updated.
  • Restrict access to any unauthorized parties.

Use enterprise-level video conferencing platforms

While hospitals initially got the chance to use tools such as Zoom, Skype, Meet, etc., these have added cybersecurity risks. Telemedicine has grown significantly now, with many enterprise-grade platforms available that have enhanced security out of the box. While deploying them might be costly, they can be critical for ensuring patient protection during virtual sessions, eliminating the chance of hackers gaining access during these sessions.

Use solutions to mitigate risks and ensure patient protection

While there are many practices and strategies available that might strengthen cybersecurity efforts, hackers always come up with plans that ultimately could result in data breaches. Moreover, not all caregivers can upgrade their security measures due to several factors, especially budgetary constraints. As a result, having a response plan to mitigate the risks and consequences is crucial. Also, while it might seem like data breaches are unstoppable, medical identity theft is not – it can be prevented with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that uses patients’ faces to identify their records. Moreover, it is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the facility – making it perfect for virtual visits.

After scheduling appointments, patients need to provide a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license; RightPatient automatically extracts the data and compares the photos for a positive match, verifying identities remotely. New patients are provided with unique biometric credentials. If a fraudster attempts to assume the identity of the patient, the platform will red-flag them, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. 

During inpatient visits, enrolled patients only need to look at the camera – the platform runs a search to identify the patient and provides the correct medical record within seconds.

By doing so, RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft even after data breaches, protecting patient information, eliminating litigation costs, and mitigating the consequences.

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Four Ways to Improve Protection of Patient Information Within Hospitals

Healthcare in the US has been facing considerable challenges for the past few years. Data breaches, medical errors, patient safety issues, patient mix-ups, medical identity theft, the lack of interoperability, and detrimental patient outcomes are just some of the many problems that plague healthcare providers. However, one of the more crucial issues for healthcare providers is data breaches as they lead to a number of problems, especially compromising patient information. Unfortunately, these are becoming more common, even during the pandemic. Let’s take a look at why protection of patient information is crucial and four ways to improve its protection – leading to better quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

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Why the protection of patient information is crucial

The importance of patient information cannot be overstated – it is one of the most sensitive pieces of information for any given individual. Since it contains data such as names, medical history, medications, vitals, diagnoses, allergies, test results, demographics, etc., it should be protected at all times. Otherwise, external and internal data breaches can lead to the exposure of patient information to unauthorized individuals who might use it for nefarious purposes.

Medical identity theft is one of the most common outcomes of data breaches, and the former leads to patient data corruption. Patient data becomes unreliable, fragmented, and dangerous, causing detrimental healthcare outcomes down the line. This is exactly why HIPAA focuses on protecting sensitive information, known as PHI (protected health information).

After seeing why the protection of patient information is important, let’s take a look at how to improve it.

Four ways to improve the protection of patient information

Monitor access rights

Another way to enhance patient data protection is by monitoring access rights periodically, at the very least. This can be done by conducting internal audits to detect whether any unauthorized individuals have access to patient records. It’s crucial to remember that patient data protection requires preventing both internal and external breaches as well, and monitoring access rights prevents internal ones. After detecting the issues, simply revoking the access given to unauthorized users enhances protection.

Conduct risk assessments regularly

The best way to protect patient information is by taking the proactive approach – identifying issues within the system before the hackers do. Thus, healthcare providers need to conduct internal audits in order to detect existing security gaps, come up with effective solutions, and implement corrective actions.

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Utilize blockchain

Blockchain is something that has been trending in the past few years, and using it can significantly improve patient data protection. But how exactly can it help healthcare providers do so?

Well, hackers usually attack a single point. Since patient information is grouped in a single location, it’s easier to attack it and tamper with it however they please. Fortunately, blockchain enhances the protection of patient information. As the stored data is distributed over the network, hackers no longer can attack a single point – they need to access the data at all the blocks repeatedly. Moreover, any changes will be picked up by the officials and such changes require the approval of the majority of those in charge, making it virtually impossible for conventional hackers to hamper patient information.

Use solutions that focus on patient data protection

There are many solutions available for protecting patient data, but responsible caregivers need to think beyond data breaches as well. Data breaches have been far too common, and that’s because most healthcare providers have budgetary constraints leading to poor cybersecurity measures. While data breaches might be inevitable, providers can prevent medical identity theft in real-time with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification solution that locks EHRs with patients’ photos. Moreover, it’s versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the hospital, making it ideal for remote sessions such as telehealth and telemedicine.

After scheduling an appointment, the patients receive an SMS or email. They need to provide a selfie along with a photo of their driver’s license, after which the platform compares the photos for a positive match, ensuring remote authentication.

Patients coming to hospitals only need to look at the camera. The platform compares the photos – red-flagging fraudsters and preventing medical identity theft in real-time. This ensures the protection of patient information as it prevents incorporating the fraudsters’ medical information within the EHR. In many cases, medical identity theft can be life-threatening for the patients if it remains undetected and unaddressed, something that RightPatient prevents.

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Healthcare Data Breach Cases Lead to Medical Identity Theft – How Are You Protecting Patients?

Anyone who knows about the US healthcare system also knows that it has always been riddled with issues, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Astronomical costs, the lack of price transparency, and the insurance system are not the only problems. Poor healthcare outcomes, preventable medical errors, medical identity theft, duplicate medical records, and lack of interoperability also plague healthcare facilities across all states. While we have covered many of these topics at one point or another, this time we will focus on healthcare data breach cases. Let’s take a closer look at recent healthcare data breaches, why providers are being targeted so frequently, how they generate medical identity theft, and how healthcare providers can protect patient data even after breaches.

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Healthcare data breaches are becoming increasingly common

When the pandemic hit the US healthcare system, many hackers had pledged that they won’t attack healthcare providers and steal patient information – something that was unprecedented. However, not all of the hackers shared the same mindset, and there have been many healthcare data breach cases over the past few months. As a result, healthcare providers are having to fight multiple battles at the same time. Let’s review two of the recent attacks.

UHS reportedly suffered a huge breach

Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services, a health system that consists of 26 hospitals, suffered a breach. On the 30th of September, they stated that some of the systems had been recovered. While there are no specifics as to how many patients were affected, the health system was forced to go offline on all of its locations to reduce the risks. However, it is working tirelessly to restore the affected systems.

Ashtabula County Medical Center

The Ohio-based medical center also suffered a cybersecurity attack on the 27th of September which forced it to cancel procedures.

What are healthcare providers saying regarding data breaches?

Many are stating that healthcare data breach cases are becoming quite common and they need better cybersecurity measures to reduce these unwanted events. While cybersecurity has always been a concern of CIOs and IT leaders, the budgets don’t allow them to realize their visions of having breach-free health systems. Moreover, they are expecting even more data breaches in the future, as they don’t see data breaches going away anytime soon. Sadly, the problems do not end here.

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Healthcare data breaches generate medical identity theft

Data breaches are huge nightmares for any healthcare provider. The worst part is that they’re inevitable, and even the biggest health systems can be vulnerable – hackers are constantly uncovering new strategies to attack and steal patient information. 

After stealing the patient information, fraudsters buy it from the black market and they assume the identities of the patients. Not many healthcare providers have effective patient identity management systems, so scammers can easily pass themselves off as the patients, since they have their credentials. If providers use effective patient identification platforms, they can prevent medical identity theft in real-time. Thus, while data breaches are inevitable and, without proper cybersecurity measures, unavoidable, medical identity theft can be prevented.

RightPatient mitigates the losses associated with data breaches

Using a robust photo-based engine, RightPatient ensures accurate patient identification using the feature fraudsters or hackers cannot steal or imitate: patients’ faces. 

The platform can also identify patients right from appointment scheduling – patients are asked for a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license after scheduling an appointment. After patients provide the photos, RightPatient matches the photos to verify the patient’s identity to see if they are who they say they are. If a fraudster is assuming the identity, RightPatient red-flags the anomaly, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. New patients are provided with biometric credentials, making it a seamless process.

If the patients are coming in person to the healthcare facilities, all they need to do is look at the camera. RightPatient matches the new photo with the saved one – if it’s a scammer, RightPatient red-flags the incident, preventing medical identity theft. It ensures a touchless and hygienic environment for everyone, something that is mandatory in a post-pandemic world.

RightPatient is enhancing patient safety, protecting patient data from being corrupted, and improving healthcare outcomes. Mitigate your losses, prevent medical identity theft, and enhance patient safety now with RightPatient.

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Data Breaches are Occurring During the Pandemic – Prevent Healthcare Identity Theft Now

Despite the relaxed rules and the U.S. slowly opening up, the COVID-19 crisis is still going strong. With no treatment found (as of yet), everyone is still feeling the effects of the coronavirus. However, there’s no doubt that the U.S. healthcare system has been affected more significantly than systems in other countries. For starters, the number of patients is overwhelming, the financial strain is unprecedented, not to mention the existing issues such as data breaches. When faced with so many impediments from all sides, how can providers prevent healthcare identity theft? Let’s explore some of the recent data breaches, how they lead to medical identity theft, and how a solution like RightPatient can protect patients and providers.

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Some recent cases

It’s not only healthcare providers – all types of healthcare organizations are being targeted by hackers.  Let’s review the healthcare organizations who became recent victims of data breaches.

Dynasplint Systems suffered a data breach that might have resulted in stolen health information. After an investigation, they identified that names, addresses, social security numbers, and other information might have been accessed or stolen. Over 102,800 people were affected.

Another healthcare organization, Pinnacle Clinical Research specializing in clinical trials, suffered a phishing attack. The breach consisted of clinical trial participants’ information. 

Mental Health Partners suffered a phishing attack as well – names, DOBs, social security numbers, among other information was potentially stolen.

How data breaches lead to healthcare identity theft

There are many other recent cases like the ones above. However, they have one thing in common – the hackers were after patient information. Any healthcare organization is a potential target for hackers. But why do hackers target them, especially for their patient information?

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After stealing the patient information, the data is sold on the black market for high prices. Since healthcare in the U.S. is quite expensive, the demand is high for the stolen information – those why buy the data believe that it’s worth buying, as opposed to getting healthcare coverage for themselves. When these fraudsters use the victims’ information, they get access to healthcare services, expensive medical devices, and treatments, whereas the victims get fraudulently charged with the costs.

That’s not all – patient safety is jeopardized as well. When the fraudsters use the victims’ medical information, the patient data gets corrupted as the fraudsters’ information and preferences are recorded in the victims’ medical records. Unless such healthcare identity theft cases are rectified, the patient will be receiving improper treatment based on a medical record consisting of corrupted patient data. These cases lead to repeated lab tests, delays in treatment, as well as negative patient outcomes. Healthcare providers also face litigation costs due to medical identity theft cases. 

With the pandemic still raging across the world, one would think that medical identity theft would be the last thing caregivers are worried about. While data breaches are quite inevitable, steps can be taken by healthcare providers to ensure patient safety.

How to prevent healthcare identity theft cases

Ensure HIPAA compliance and safeguard PHI

One way of protecting patient information is by getting back to the source – data breaches. Anyone familiar with healthcare in the U.S. has heard of HIPAA. The law basically sets the groundwork for protecting patient information known as PHI (protected health information). However, it’s quite a comprehensive and multilayered law – even the biggest healthcare providers have a hard time ensuring compliance as the rules and regulations change frequently. 

Even during the start of the pandemic, some rules were relaxed to ensure faster healthcare delivery. The bottom line is that if providers ensure HIPAA compliance, put enough safeguards in place, detect security vulnerabilities using internal audits, and are well versed about data breaches, they can protect themselves better against cybersecurity attacks. That’s what HIPAA Ready does – it is a simple but powerful HIPAA compliance software that keeps all the HIPAA related information centralized, helps you conduct internal audits to detect vulnerabilities, and helps you set up HIPAA training sessions to keep your employees up to date on the latest changes.

Ensure patient identification

Responsible healthcare providers can go the extra mile and add an extra security measure that no fraudster can pass through – even in the cases of data breaches. That’s where RightPatient comes in.

It is a touchless patient identification platform that uses a photo-based search engine to ensure that the patients are who they say they are and not some fraudster. During hospital visits, the platform takes a photo of a patient during enrollment and locks the medical record with it. If a fraudster attempts to commit healthcare identity theft, the platform will red flag the individual, preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

RightPatient has been helping leading healthcare providers for years now, and with its touchless platform, it is the only sensible option in a post-COVID-19 world.

Try RightPatient now and be a responsible healthcare provider.

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Providers Must Protect Patient Information to Enhance Patient Trust

The US healthcare system has always been the one attracting attention for all the wrong reasons – it is inundated with a plethora of issues. Lack of price transparency, interoperability issues, lack of proper patient identification, archaic laws governing the overall system, and prevalent medical identity theft cases are just some of the many problems that plague providers and prevent them from giving optimal patient care. One of the more prominent problems faced is healthcare data breaches – something that happens regularly nowadays. With the pandemic in mind, healthcare providers need to do all they can to enhance patient trust and improve patient safety – something they can do if they protect patient information. This is critical because it will boost inpatient volumes and can help offset the ongoing losses due to COVID-19. Let’s see how RightPatient can help by ensuring accurate patient identity verification.

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What does the data say?

A recently released study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine has shed some light on patients’ perceptions about their EHR security and privacy.

According to the report:

  • The respondents who fear that their EHRs will be jeopardized due to a cybersecurity incident are three times more likely to hold back information from their caregivers, compared to those who do not share the same feeling, especially during the transmission of said EHRs electronically. 
  • Out of the respondents who trusted that their EHRs were safe and secure, chances of concealing information from their providers were around half compared to those who had privacy concerns.
  • Older, married, and employed patients were less likely to withhold information.

This study was conducted with keeping the growth of telehealth in mind and how a lack of patient trust will cause problems, especially during the pandemic. Thus, healthcare providers need to rethink their strategies and boost patient confidence. Not only will it help provide better healthcare services, but it will also increase patient retention – patients will not switch to other caregivers if they see that their providers protect patient information effectively.

Protect patient information by ensuring compliance

With the electronic transmission of PHI (protected health information), HIPAA compliance is the first thing that pops up on the minds of providers. The aforementioned study suggests the same: providers should address patients’ concerns by addressing security gaps. This can be done by providing proper training for internal data breaches and do’s and don’ts during PHI transmission, conducting internal audits to detect security issues, and keeping relevant employees on the same page regarding HIPAA compliance. HIPAA Ready is a robust HIPAA compliance software that can address all that and more, helping you protect patient information in the process. Simplify HIPAA compliance and reduce your administrative burdens with HIPAA Ready.

RightPatient helps protect patient information

RightPatient has been helping to protect patient data for years now. Moreover, even if you face a data breach, you can still safeguard patient information. Here’s how it works.

Once a provider deploys RightPatient, patients receive an SMS or email to validate their identity after scheduling an appointment. The patient provides a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license, and RightPatient matches the photos to ensure a proper match. Patients new to the platform are provided with new biometric credentials.Protect-patient-data-by-ensuring-accurate-patient-identification

 During inpatient visits, all patients need to do is look at the camera. The platform identifies them by matching the photos, ensuring accurate patient identification.

Another reason why RightPatient is a must

The aforementioned study is also related to the updated Medicare CoPs. Since the study talks about sending EHRs to other caregivers, the recently introduced e-notifications come to mind. With the looming CMS compliance deadline (May 1st, 2021), healthcare providers need to ensure accurate patient identification so that they can send out accurate e-notifications during ADTs. If they fail to send out notifications to the proper channels, it can cause noncompliance issues and can risk their CMS provider agreements. RightPatient is a must-have solution to avoid such cases and ensure that the proper caregivers are notified.

Contact us now to know how we can help you achieve your goals.

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Patient Data Protection is Ensured by Responsible Healthcare Leaders

Healthcare providers in the US have a lot on their plates. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, they had their hands full with issues like patient identification errors, cybersecurity threats, HIPAA compliance issues, an abundance of duplicate medical records, medical identity theft, a distinct lack of patient safety, and more. Whatever the case may be, progressive healthcare leaders need to ensure patient data protection at all costs. In fact, many of the aforementioned problems can be mitigated by protecting patient data – leading providers have been doing that constantly. But why is it so important? How can providers safeguard patient data? Let’s dive in.

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Patient data protection

Safeguard-electronic-health-records-with-RightPatientPatient data protection has been one of the oldest and most important requirements for healthcare providers, and rightfully so – a patient shares critical and sensitive information with their caregivers. Names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, contact information, addresses, facial photographs, medical history, and ailments are just some examples of the information stored within patient records. If these get compromised and land in the wrong hands, such cases can have disastrous consequences – healthcare insurance fraud, litigation costs for providers, and hampered patient safety are some common results. Thus, protecting patient data is crucial for any caregiver. Let’s take a look at a few more reasons why protecting patient data is necessary for hospitals and health systems.

Reasons to protect patient data

Ensuring Compliance

Concerns regarding data privacy are more common than ever – even more so when it comes to patient data. The frequency of healthcare data breaches proves that. However, providers, along with other healthcare organizations that deal with patient data, need to have safeguards in place to protect sensitive information.

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HIPAA, also known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was introduced back in 1996 and is primarily used for patient data protection. It mandates that all healthcare organizations who deal with PHI (protected health information) must ensure that the data is protected at all times. If an organization fails to do so or violates HIPAA in any other way, they will face heavy scrutiny and hefty fines – up to $1.5 million per year. On top of that, the person committing the violation may face criminal penalties – fines and even jail time. Data breaches can cost up to $ 6 billion for the healthcare industry, and the US also tops the list of most expensive data breaches, besides Germany.

HITECH, or the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, compliments HIPAA. It was created to make sure that healthcare information technology is adopted and utilized appropriately. Privacy and security concerns are addressed by HITECH as well.

Thus, patient data protection is a must to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations that are in place. While HIPAA compliance can be cumbersome and challenging, healthcare organizations can simplify compliance management and reduce HIPAA-related administrative burdens. There are solutions available to ensure HIPAA compliance – organizations should choose one that is simple but powerful and gets the job done effectively. HIPAAReady is such a solution. A robust HIPAA compliance software, HIPAAReady ensures training management and scheduling, reduces administrative burden, and keeps all HIPAA compliance documents in a centralized location. Organizations can even detect security gaps by conducting internal audits with HIPAAReady.

Preventing medical identity theft

One of the more crucial reasons why protecting patient data is so important is because failure to do so leads to medical identity theft. Let’s see how that happens.

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Cybercriminals are always trying to breach the security of healthcare providers, and when they finally do so, they steal sensitive patient information and sell it on the black market for high prices. Fraudsters buy the data and assume the identity of the affected patients – committing medical identity theft, pushing off the expenses on the victims, and fraudulently obtaining healthcare services. 

Medical identity theft can lead to lawsuits, demand significant time and costs from patients and/or providers to rectify the issues, and compromise patient data integrity. That leads us to the next reason for protecting patient data.

Enhancing patient safety

Failure to maintain patient data integrity means that the data is not accurate anymore. When a provider fails to protect patient data, it leads to medical identity theft. When the fraudster uses the victim’s healthcare services, he/she contaminates the patient data – the fraudster’s data gets written onto the victim’s patient record, rendering it inaccurate. If such cases remain undetected or unfixed, they can severely hamper patient outcomes. Medical errors, delays in treatment, incorrect procedures, and even deaths – these are just some of the numerous consequences of compromised patient data. Thus, patient data protection is critical for enhancing patient safety.

Protect patient data now

Protect-patient-data-now-with-RightPatientProtecting patient data is a huge challenge, but it is achievable. One of the first and foremost things providers can do to protect patient data is to ensure positive patient identification at each encounter. That’s where we can help.

RightPatient is the leading patient identification solution chosen by progressive providers. It is a photo-based and touchless biometric patient identification platform with common goals shared by caregivers – to enhance patient safety, to ensure accurate patient identification, and to prevent medical identity theft

It locks the medical records of patients upon registration with their photos. Returning patients look at the camera and the platform matches the photos and provides accurate records within seconds. Even with healthcare data breaches, RightPatient protects your patients and their data as the platform will red-flag fraudsters during patient identity verification.

Protect patient data, prevent medical identity theft, ensure positive patient identification, and more – with RightPatient.

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Hospitals Might Lose $323 Billion – Reduce Yours by Ensuring Patient Data Security

Healthcare around the world has been arguably facing one of its biggest challenges yet, and the US healthcare system is no exception to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. While there are spikes in COVID-19 cases, things are looking quite bleak for the financial performance of hospitals this year. To be exact, over a staggering $323 billion could be lost only in 2020! Is there any solution to mitigate the losses? RightPatient might be the answer – as it ensures patient data security and prevents medical identity theft in real-time. Let’s explore.

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Unimaginable hospital losses

It is quite simple – due to the pandemic, hospitals had to focus more on the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients, and thus, stopped treating regular patients. While this was expected, the financial losses are still huge.

According to the American Hospital Association, healthcare providers have reported declines of 34.5% in outpatient volume and 1.5% in inpatient volume, on average. Projected losses for the duration of March–June 2020 have been around $202 billion. Moving forward, the AHA estimates that the second half of 2020 will incur a loss of around $120.5 billion for providers – leading to an unprecedented sum of $323 billion in losses for the year 2020. However, the AHA does warn that this might be an understatement – the numbers might go even higher.

Providers do not expect losses to reduce for the rest of the year either. The AHA’s president has even stated that the US healthcare system is facing the biggest financial crisis in its history due to the pandemic as well as reduced patient numbers.

While the US federal government has provided over $170 billion as emergency funding for the providers, many fear that it might not be enough to overcome the heavy losses.

Medical identity theft is on the rise

Ensure-patient-data-security-and-prevent-medical-ID-theft-with-RightPatientWhile COVID-19 and its long-lasting effects are raging on, that has not stopped hackers from attempting to steal sensitive patient data through healthcare data breaches. Security experts have stated that there is a huge opportunity for hackers to steal patient data since it is rich with valuables like Social Security numbers, insurance information, and so on. Moreover, they can sell patient records for up to $1000.

Healthcare in the US is expensive, and that is the reason why medical identity theft is so common. Fraudsters simply buy the patient data from the black market, and do not need to worry about any more healthcare expenses – the fraudulent bills are passed on to the shoulders of the victims. As can be seen, ensuring patient data security is quite important.

Medical identity theft not only hampers the patients financially – it affects patient safety as well. When a fraudster uses the patient data to gain access to healthcare services such as expensive procedures, medications, and equipment, their data is recorded into the victims’ patient records. Thus, the patients might further suffer from incorrect medications and procedures based on an altered medical history, making patient data security a topmost priority, even during the pandemic.

Ensure patient data security with RightPatient

RightPatient has been protecting millions of patient records for leading healthcare providers for years. It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that locks the medical records of the patients with their photos upon registration. After enrollment, all the patients need to do is look at the camera and the platform matches the photos and provides the correct patient record within seconds. Thus, if a fraudster comes by, he/she will be red-flagged, preventing medical identity theft.

Moreover, due to the pandemic, patient identification in hospitals needs to be upgraded to a touchless platform like RightPatient to prevent infection control issues and enhance patient safety. RightPatient meets all the requirements for any given health system or hospital by preventing medical identity theft, ensuring patient data security, enhancing patient safety, and preventing duplicate record creation, boosting the bottom lines. Reduce your losses by using RightPatient and protecting patient records now.