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Preventing Medical ID Theft Can Combat the Effects of Healthcare Data Breaches

We talk about a lot of healthcare topics regularly on our blog but the most common one is healthcare data breaches. That’s because hackers are targeting healthcare providers every day to steal patient information – leading to much too frequent data breaches. Unfortunately, today is no different as we take a look at some recent data breaches and how some of the hospitals are responding. However, the consequences of most data breaches, medical ID theft, CAN be mitigated with accurate patient identification, ensuring safety in healthcare facilities – more on that later.

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Healthcare data breaches update

Over 3 million patients’ information was exposed this August

It’s frightening how both the number of data breaches and patients at risk from them keep on increasing. Just last month, over 3.3 million patients’ confidential and sensitive information was exposed due to data breaches at hospitals and health systems, as per HHS’ breach portal.

Out of them, St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System identified around 1.4 million patients’ information at risk, University Medical Center of Southern Nevada saw 1.3 million, and over 637,000 patients’ information was compromised at UNM Health. 

Over 600,000 patients’ information exposed 

DuPage Medical Group identified unauthorized activity on its computer network – resulting in shutting down access to it. However, around 600,000 patients’ information was put at risk due to unauthorized activity. Information such as names, dates of birth, addresses, Social Security numbers, and diagnosis codes was exposed. As is standard with healthcare providers, the group is providing complimentary services to the affected patients. 

More than 171,000 patients at risk of being medical ID theft victims

Metro Infectious Disease Consultants, a physician group of over 100 physicians, identified that over 171,000 patients’ data was exposed due to hacker(s) breaching employee email accounts. After a thorough investigation, the physician group came up with the aforementioned number, secured the employee email accounts, and saw that names, date of birth, Social Security numbers, and medical information was exposed. It also announced that the affected patients will be offered complimentary services.

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Around 12,000 patients’ information exposed due to a phishing attack 

One of the most common methods used by hackers is phishing, and that’s how one of them hacked Revere Health and got access to around 12,000 patients’ information. To prevent it from happening further, Revere Health is sending “phishing” emails to test their employees and provide the ones who click on it with training – quite an innovative approach.

Medical ID theft is the common consequence of data breaches

Hackers can sell stolen patient information for up to $1000 in the black market, which is why it’s so lucrative for them and the reason for so many healthcare data breaches we read about every day.

Fraudsters buy these stolen patient records from the hackers and then get healthcare services using the victims’ information, but there’s more to it. 

Since the fraudsters are being “treated” using the medical records of the victims, the EHRs contain someone else’s information, rendering them corrupt, dangerous, and unusable. If these corrupt records are not prevented or detected immediately, then the actual patient will be receiving the wrong medical care – making it extremely dangerous for them. Moreover, the patients will be receiving bills for healthcare services they never got.

Healthcare providers, on the other hand, might get hit with lawsuits, not receive the payment, and face patient safety incidents.

While data breaches seem inevitable, the most common consequence (medical ID theft) can be mitigated with RightPatient – improving patient safety in the process.

RightPatient prevents medical ID theft in real-time

One of the biggest reasons why fraudsters get away with committing medical identity theft is because most hospitals and health systems cannot ensure accurate patient identification.  Fortunately, RightPatient is a touchless patient ID platform that has a vast amount of experience identifying patients accurately and can prevent medical identity theft in real-time.

During the registration process, patients only need to look at the camera – RightPatient attaches a photo of the patient with their EHR. When the fraudster arrives to access services, they’ll need to go through the same process, and since they are not the actual patient of the hospital, their EHR will not be verified. The platform will alert the registration team that the fraudster actually isn’t the patient – preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

RightPatient has been successfully preventing medical identity theft, protecting millions of patient records across different hospitals, and ensuring patient safety for years. If you want to do the same at your healthcare facility, contact us now to learn more about how we can help you.

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Protection of Medical Records is Critical as Data Breaches Appear Unstoppable

Healthcare data breaches are nothing new, especially in the U.S. Even before the pandemic, data breaches were common among hospitals, and why wouldn’t they be? With hackers selling one stolen medical record for up to $1000, medical records can be a lucrative business. However, since the pandemic, data breaches have become significantly more common. But there are some factors to consider in this context. For instance, because of the pandemic, healthcare providers understandably had a lot on their hands – a surge of COVID-19 patients, adapting to the rapidly changing environment, setting up virtual healthcare, and so on. Hackers took advantage of this situation and focused their attacks on healthcare facilities. Let’s look at the problem, explore why it is still occurring, and determine how the protection of medical records IS possible with positive patient identification.

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Recent data breaches show the importance of protecting medical records

Cyberattack forces a hospital to go back to analog methods! 

That’s not a piece of news we hear every day, is it? Well, the information of a whopping 1.4 million patients was exposed due to an incident back in June at St. Joseph’s/Candler. After detecting suspicious activity, the health system decided to shut down the IT systems, using paper documentation to mitigate the effects of the attack. However, things are better now, as their IT systems have been mostly restored. 

Information of more than 637,000 patients exposed

The attack led to unauthorized individual(s) accessing New Mexico Health’s network, compromising information for more than 637,000 patients. Names, addresses, birthdates, health insurance information, medical record numbers, were among the data accessed by the unauthorized party. The health system has been providing complimentary services to the affected patients after notifying them of the attack. 

All of this goes to show how important the protection of medical records is, especially if hospitals want to avoid huge losses in addition to those caused by the pandemic. Fortunately, RightPatient can prevent fraudsters from tampering with EHRs and even prevent medical identity theft in real-time – more on that later. For now, let’s see why data breaches are still occurring. 

Why do hospitals fail with the protection of medical records? 

There are quite a few reasons why data breaches still wreak havoc across healthcare facilities. 

Firstly, most healthcare facilities have extremely backdated security solutions or very basic (not robust) modern solutions.

Secondly, their IT infrastructure is outdated – and security relies on good IT infrastructure. 

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Thirdly, most facilities have not updated their systems in view of the recent data breaches. In other words, they don’t learn from the mistakes of others. 

There are, however, other external factors that limit the effectiveness of cybersecurity teams. The biggest issue they face is budgetary – generally, cybersecurity receives a very meager portion of the hospital’s budget. Thus, even if they wanted to, they couldn’t ramp up their cybersecurity measures. 

Moreover, hackers are coming up with new and innovative ways to steal patient information and disrupt hospital operations. As previously mentioned, hospitals and health systems are prime targets because hackers get significant amounts of money by stealing patient information and selling it on the black market. 

All in all, healthcare providers cannot be blamed entirely for becoming targets of data breaches – there are both external and internal forces that make them inevitable.

However, while data breaches are inevitable and seemingly unstoppable, their most common consequence, medical identity theft, IS preventable. 

RightPatient ensures the protection of medical records

There are several reasons why RightPatient is the leading touchless biometric patient identification platform. It ensures accurate identification of registered patients at all times. The platform is extremely easy to use for both patients and hospital employees – it becomes part of the EHR workflow. RightPatient is also safe, hygienic, and prevents HAIs (hospital-acquired infections), as it is touchless. However, it also prevents medical identity theft in real-time. 

When fraudsters attempt to pass themselves off as patients, RightPatient will establish that the fraudster does not match any saved medical records, simply by using the face – thus preventing medical identity theft. 

Several healthcare providers have added millions to their bottom line thanks to RightPatient. When will YOU make the move to the leading touchless patient ID platform?

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How to Protect Patient Information as Data Breaches Become a Topmost Concern

We’ve talked about data breaches in hospitals and health systems more times than we can count. Unfortunately, these unwanted incidents just keep on happening, and even when the pandemic was at its peak, hackers didn’t stop. Thus, it isn’t a surprise that many healthcare executives are wary about cyberthreats that loom in the dark, just biding their time and waiting to attack more hospitals and steal patient information. That being said, let’s take a look at some recent cyberthreats faced by hospitals, what healthcare execs are saying, and how to protect patient information even if there is a data breach.

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Most healthcare experts are worried about cyber threats

Let’s take a look at some of the recent worrying trends in health IT, according to some respected healthcare executives. 

Half of them stated that the frequency of cyber-attacks on healthcare facilities is one of their primary concerns now – let’s explore the issue in detail.

Out of these execs, one of them expects that this will continue to be a huge problem for the foreseeable future – a worrying but accurate prediction, unfortunately.

Another exec stated that such cyber-attacks put patient data, arguably one of the most sensitive pieces of information available within hospitals, at huge risk. We’re inclined to agree, as most data breaches end up with hackers stealing patient information and selling it to fraudsters who commit medical identity theft down the line. Many caregivers, as a result, are searching for answers to the billion-dollar question – how to protect patient information. 

Another exec stated that cyberattacks are rapidly evolving as hackers come up with innovative ways to attack and lock or steal patient information – something quite challenging to keep up with.

One of the execs that is worried about cyber-attacks stated that hackers and these issues hinder them from doing their jobs properly, which is to care for their patients. He also stated that effective cybersecurity practices and far more assistance are required to tackle cybersecurity and keep costs in check. 

Another of these execs predicts that more hospitals and health systems will be focused on improving some aspects such as better integration between platforms, patient consumerization, and strategies that help with cybersecurity efforts. 

However, not all healthcare executives chose cyber-attacks as their primary worries.

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Others chose:

  • The boom of startups that give unrealistic expectations, taking up a lot of money from investors.
  • Mergers and acquisitions.
  • Mandates about sharing health information that are quite unclear and might be detrimental.
  • Clinician burnout due to EHR coding, among other issues. 
  • Ensuring equity during telehealth visits.

While all of them are quite valid concerns, the biggest concern is how to protect patient information effectively – healthcare data breaches are occurring as we speak. 

Hospitals must protect patient information effectively as data breaches are rampant

On the 15th of April, a phishing attempt was successful – unauthorized individual(s) got access to login credentials of an employee of Orlando Family Physicians. After a thorough investigation, it was found that three other employee accounts were accessed. While the access has been revoked, over 447,000 patients were exposed, such as names, health insurance data, Social Security numbers, and more. This is just a classic case of data breaches – something that has been repeating itself for several years in many hospitals and health systems.

Fortunately, as we mentioned at the beginning of the article, doing something about protecting patient data and preventing medical identity theft IS possible – let’s see how to protect patient information even if there is a data breach. 

How to protect patient information with RightPatient

RightPatient is the leading touchless patient identification platform trusted by responsible hospitals and health systems for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures accurate patient identification starting from appointment scheduling and at any touchpoint across the care continuum. Secondly, it is easy-to-use, safe, and hygienic, as the interactions are contactless – something that is extremely valuable in a post-pandemic world. Thirdly, it protects patient data and blocks fraudsters during identity verification – preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

During the registration process, the patient just needs to look at the camera – the photo taken is attached to their medical record, essentially “locking” it from being meddled with by fraudsters. When the patient returns for future visits, all the patient needs to do is look at the camera – RightPatient automatically runs a search and presents the appropriate EHR when it finds a match between the saved photo and the patient’s live image. Any fraudster attempts will be red-flagged by RightPatient during this process – stopping medical identity theft in its tracks.

How are YOU protecting your patients’ information?

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To Enjoy Advantages of Telemedicine in Healthcare, Providers Must Protect Patients Online

Telemedicine, many times used interchangeably with the word telehealth, has grown tremendously during last year because of COVID-19. Whilst it’s been available for a long time (decades, really), its future was uncertain before now. Healthcare experts mainly debated about the possible advantages of telemedicine in healthcare, while patients were wary regarding online doctor appointments.

Still, because of COVID-19, practically everything is different, and desperate times required drastic measures. Rules enveloping virtual visits got relaxed, so, more providers and their patients got exposed to this new phenomenon called telehealth. 

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Online appointments currently have numerous supporters 

The user base for telehealth has soared, with numerous healthcare professionals and their patients supporting it and saying they want it to be a permanent part of healthcare after the emergency is over. It was also extremely helpful and convenient throughout the pandemic. That being said, let’s look closer and examine the advantages of telemedicine in healthcare plus the way providers can safeguard their patients throughout these appointments. 

A few advantages of telemedicine in healthcare

Telemedicine is cost-efficient for all

The universal understanding regarding virtual healthcare is that it is less expensive than in-person visits. Plus, it saves time, no need to travel to use it, etc. Whilst that’s correct, online healthcare is also less expensive for healthcare providers. Think about it – for most online appointments, all the provider requires is an online platform, the proper devices to connect with their patients, plus a steady, secure online connection. These types of appointments get rid of a lot of the costs linked with traditional healthcare – i.e. registration desks, using paper products, fewer staff members required, etc.

The AHA (American Hospital Association) even agrees with the aforementioned – online healthcare saved over 11% of costs for many hospitals

Online appointments provide access to many more patients 

Even the toughest critics can’t refute the fact that telehealth offers top-notch care to many more patients than in-person appointments. Consider how it worked before COVID-19 – the majority of patients in rural areas were unable to get to a suitable hospital for several reasons.

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An example of one of the top advantages of telemedicine in healthcare is that one can use it from any place – so it’s quite convenient for those who live in rural areas. Whilst a tiny amount of providers offered online appointments prior to the pandemic for rural patients, the pandemic showed how helpful telehealth can be for routine patients too. Online appointments assisted in providing top-notch care to a huge number of patients who had various problems – a lot still use this and the experts want it to become a permanent option for healthcare. 

Telemedicine fits more people’s needs

Preventive medicine, improved quality, superior scheduling experiences – online appointments can meet all those things and even more! 

Numerous experts say because patients are more involved with telehealth appointments than with in-person appointments, the former could encourage more preventive medicine usage. Patients, likewise, feel that they are getting more personalized care with telehealth appointments since they report during in-person appointments that their physicians do not even look at them – only at their computer screens. These cases, along with other factors, might cause a surge of usage that helps to improve healthcare outcomes in the future. 

Online appointments offer a superior quality of care for a lot of patients, particularly rural ones, as described earlier. With online appointments, patients can pick which provider they want, and they can even be miles away and still get one that meets their precise healthcare needs. 

Finally, with online appointments, patients can merely pick the timeframe that works best for them, so, scheduling is easy. Whilst that also can happen with regular in-person appointments, the patient now doesn’t have to wait hours or longer to see their doctor, all they have to do is log in at their appointment time and see their doctor.

Still, whilst telehealth has a huge possibility, it remains pretty new, so several challenges have to be solved – one is protecting patient information online. 

Providers have to safeguard their patients online to enjoy the advantages of telemedicine

Patient records and data are very sensitive information, which is one of the dominant reasons most data breaches occur in the healthcare industry. Hackers can sell a medical record for thousands of dollars on the black market, and the scammers then buy them and use them to get healthcare and the actual patient is charged with the bills. While this normally happens in traditional in-person appointments, a lot of experts believe it can also occur in online appointments, so, the healthcare providers have to safeguard their patients’ information while they are in an online appointment too. 

Luckily, RightPatient comes with lots of great experience in protecting patient data as well as avoiding medical identity theft in real-time.

One of the top touchless patient ID platforms utilized by many healthcare providers, RightPatient detects patients via facial recognition and averts scammers from trying to pass as the real patient during the registration process and beyond.

RightPatient can be used during telehealth appointments – so it is perfect for protecting your patient’s information as well as stopping identity theft during virtual visits. Patients only need to take a picture of themselves and a picture ID like their driver’s license – RightPatient takes it from there. 

Is your facility ready to safeguard your patients’ info and stop medical identity theft in real-time? 

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Curbing Healthcare Identity Theft During Telehealth as it Gains the Biden Administration’s Support

So, this topic shouldn’t surprise you, but many folks are happy about the announcement. You can’t help but have seen that the use of telehealth soared after the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in the United States along with the easing of any of the surrounding restrictions. Telehealth is here to stay now, but there are concerns regarding healthcare identity theft. Ok, its usage has fallen slightly currently, although there is an ever-expanding amount of healthcare specialists, patients, and providers who wish to institute these virtual visits into a permanent healthcare option. Luckily, that appears to be a good possibility since the Biden administration supports this, so long as it meets precise conditions. Nevertheless, there are additional problems to solve – the most important one is medical identity theft occurring during a session.

Therefore, let’s look closer at the role of telehealth in healthcare, the reason lots of folks now support it, the way the Biden administration supports it, as well as the way RightPatient can avert medical ID theft cases during a remote session. 

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Telehealth is getting more popular amongst providers and users 

Telehealth has existed for many years, however, it only revealed its full potential when the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. Since people weren’t able to see their providers in person and many elective procedures got postponed indefinitely, healthcare givers, as well as the government, rushed to provide another method of treating non-critical patients. Telehealth proved to be the answer.

Since another method of treating patients was urgently needed, telehealth got elected, and many of its previous restrictions got lessened. Telehealth got very popular amongst caregivers and patients. A lot of younger patients even decided they prefer telehealth sessions and will use them after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Though, a lot are concerned that whenever the pandemic ends, the restrictions on telehealth will return and it will again be hard to use.

The future of Telehealth seems great – Yet there’s a need for the correct framework

Luckily, that is not going to occur, as the Biden administration has said it is going to support expanded telehealth access when the COVID-19 problem ends. Because it assisted in providing virtual care as well as has also ensured patients were safe during this unprecedented timeframe, it has earned a substantial amount of backers who profited from telehealth, so wish to carry it on.

Congress is looking at the present scenario, contemplating which of the regulations on virtual care ought to change whenever the Covid emergency is done. Currently, there are about forty-three bills that have provisions regarding telehealth that have been generated since the start of the pandemic, according to the Alliance for Connected Care.

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Still, HHS Secretary, Mr. Becerra, asserted that everyone must be able to access telehealth, and care quality must be ensured. The Biden administration aims to ensure U.S. citizens get top-notch healthcare through virtual appointments – he said they do not wish folks to get billed for items that do not improve the services. 

Healthcare identity theft can happen during a virtual visit as well

So, whilst telehealth’s future seems bright, a few issues must be ironed out. The healthcare providers additionally have to work to ensure patients get the top care and stay safe from medical identity theft.

One of the concerns some have overlooked regarding telehealth visits is medical identity theft cases that may happen in a session. Exactly like the way healthcare frauds as well as healthcare identity theft occurs in an in-person appointment, experts predict these will happen in virtual visits too. Healthcare suppliers must make sure that is averted – something they can accomplish via better identification of patients during the telehealth visits. Thankfully, RightPatient assists with doing that, and even more! 

RightPatient averts healthcare identity theft in real-time

For years RightPatient has prevented medical ID theft as well as healthcare fraud, thus, safeguarding millions of patient records throughout several top hospitals and many health systems. RightPatient leads the way in touchless biometric patient ID platforms which makes sure patients get identified correctly throughout the care field. Consequently, when a bad actor attempts to pass themselves off as a patient, RightPatient red flags them, avoiding medical identity theft instantly, even during virtual visits. 

RightPatient does not just assist in preventing healthcare identity theft, but it additionally safeguards patient information, ensures patient safety, and decreases litigation costs related to identity theft incidents.

Since the Biden administration backs telehealth, the future of using it looks great. Yet, caregivers must avert problems connecting to virtual appointments, and serious issues such as medical ID theft can be avoided with RightPatient.

What is the way you prevent these cases of identity theft in your medical facility?

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How to Protect Patient Data at Your Hospital

The U.S. healthcare system has never had a shortage of problems – it has always dealt with several issues simultaneously. The exorbitant prices, the lack of price transparency, medical identity theft cases, lack of patient identification in hospitals, preventable medical errors, and archaic laws are just some issues that plague healthcare. Healthcare data breaches have unfortunately been growing at an exponential rate. With no signs of them stopping anytime soon, it becomes crucial that healthcare providers, professionals, and everyone involved with patient information be vigilant regarding protecting the data. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at how to protect patient data within hospitals and health systems with 5 practices. 

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Why protecting patient data is becoming so important

Those who are familiar with the U.S. healthcare system know that data breaches are occurring left, right, and center. These data breaches have several grave consequences such as patient information being stolen, being sold in the black market, being used for medical identity theft, patient data integrity failure, litigation costs, loss of goodwill – the list just goes on. And all of this might occur simply because a healthcare staff member opened an external email without being wary of the possible risks. 

As a result, healthcare professionals and facilities need to be on guard at all times against such cyberattacks so that they don’t lead to data breaches, disruption of operations, or the most common endgame – medical identity theft.

With the “why” out of the way, let’s dive into the “how”, to be more precise, how to protect patient data.

How to protect patient data with 5 practices

Work on HIPAA compliance

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, mandates that healthcare providers along with anyone else dealing with patient information protect patient information effectively at all times. It provides many rules and regulations that cover a lot of aspects, and if applicable organizations aren’t ensuring compliance, then they’ll be heavily penalized. 

However, working on HIPAA compliance just for the sake of avoiding penalties won’t help. HIPAA provides several guidelines on how to protect patient data at rest and during transmission. If these guidelines are taken as starting points, not only will HIPAA compliance be ensured, but patient data will also be protected – reducing chances of data breaches. There are even solutions such as HIPAA compliance software that can also aid in compliance – helping identify security gaps and reducing the administrative burden in the process.

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Improve user authentication practices

Patient data can be breached from anywhere, and with many healthcare staff working remotely, the risks are just increasing. Putting safeguards in place that enforce limited access to everyone that deals with patient information can slow down breaches. This way, even if the hacker has access to the employee’s account, they will only have restricted access to sensitive information.

Always encrypt sensitive information 

Encrypting sensitive information makes it useless for hackers – it makes the information unreadable by outsiders or unauthorized users. Enforce employees’ use of encryption whenever transmitting sensitive patient information.

Provide training on patient data security whenever required

Too many training sessions on patient information security can be ineffective and counterproductive, and too few can reduce its importance. Instead, find the sweet spot for your organization to provide training sessions regarding patient information security.

For instance, whenever there’s news about another data breach that can provide meaningful information, conducting a training session and disseminating the information to the employees can help – learning from others’ mistakes might just be the thing that will prevent a data breach. Also, regularly provide updates on how to handle external emails and requests – the safest bet is treating each email as a suspicious one.

Implement solutions that protect patient data

Several constraints prohibit healthcare providers from fully being protected against data breaches – cybersecurity budgets and hackers coming up with innovative ways to attack being the most common ones. However, while data breaches might seem inevitable for many, patient data can be protected, but how?

RightPatient is the answer.

It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that prevents medical identity theft in real-time. By ensuring accurate patient identification, RightPatient successfully red-flags fraudsters during the registration process. This prevents fraudsters from tampering with the EHRs, ensuring patient data integrity, and protecting patient data in the process. 

How are you protecting patient data at your healthcare facility?

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Patient Data Integrity During Virtual Visits Must be Ensured as Experts Debate About Telehealth

Let’s face it – telehealth has been a huge driving force that made treating non-critical patients possible during the pandemic. Once COVID-19 hit the U.S. in full force, every healthcare provider dropped their regular operations and scrambled to care for the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients. Regular patients, however, were pushed towards remote visits, resulting in telehealth’s explosion in popularity. One of the best aspects of virtual visits was that patients received care right from their homes – one can even say that telehealth somewhat helped “flatten the curve”. While the major effects of the pandemic are fortunately behind us, many are questioning telehealth’s future now. That being said, let’s take a closer look at what experts think, why many are advocating for telehealth, and why ensuring patient data integrity during such visits is a must.

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Telehealth is universally acclaimed

While countless brave frontline healthcare teams worked to save COVID-19 patients that went to hospitals in huge numbers, telehealth helped non-critical patients during the pandemic. As more people agreed to virtual visits, healthcare providers, patients, vendors, insurers, and everyone else involved realized telehealth’s potential and approved its usage.

In fact, telehealth has become so popular that as we return to the “old normal”, many healthcare providers, experts, consumer groups, advocates, and even state Medicaid officials are pushing Congress to keep its expansions in place so that even more people can access and benefit from using it. This is because all of these people believe that virtual visits can transform healthcare. For instance, many services that used to warrant in-person visits can now effectively be provided via video communication platforms, sometimes, even audio calls are enough!

But, like everything else, there are two sides of the coin, and telehealth is no exception. 

There are skeptics of telehealth – many worry about patient data integrity

While telehealth has been growing at a rapid pace since the pandemic, there have been skeptics concerned about it. However, telehealth is no stranger to adversaries.

Telehealth has been around for several years, and since its inception, it has had its fair share of detractors. Why else do you think it took so long for telehealth to be where it is today? 

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While it can be said that telehealth is “transforming” healthcare, there are skeptics worried about the “side effects” it might bring. Even among supporters, there’s concern regarding its usage, costs, medical identity theft that will cause patient data integrity issues, and inequality for low-income patients. In fact, many fear that it will become a tool that will simply increase costs without adding additional value. While there might be safeguards in place down the line to control costs, the fear of medical identity theft bleeding over to virtual visits is quite natural. It occurs with in-person visits, and without proper safeguards, fraudulent cases might become a part of virtual visits too, hampering patient data integrity – let’s see how it might happen.

Medical identity theft is a common concern regarding telehealth

During in-person visits, the lack of a positive patient identification system leads to fraudsters getting away. Fraudsters are usually armed with the information required to bypass the security measures – most of the time, these security measures are questions regarding the patient. If the fraudster has access to the patient’s information (many buy the information from the black market), it’s easy to know the right answers. As these caregivers cannot accurately identify patients, fraudsters get access to healthcare services, medical devices, etc., and if they opt for treatment, it hampers patient data integrity. The same can happen during virtual sessions too – as long as there’s no effective way to identify patients accurately, fraudsters cannot be stopped. 

Thankfully, RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft during telehealth visits and in-person visits. 

RightPatient protects patient data integrity

As a touchless patient identification platform, RightPatient is being used to protect millions of patient records across a variety of health systems and hospitals. Using patients’ photos, the platform validates whether the patient is real or a fraudster, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. 

RightPatient makes patient identification in hospitals and virtual visits accurate, prevents impostors, and reduces substantial costs down the line – try our platform now to see how it can boost the bottom line at your healthcare facility.

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Patient Data Protection Is One of the Topmost Priorities in a Post-Pandemic World

COVID-19 has changed the fabric of reality for the entire world. While it has spread like wildfire and ravaged the entire world for more than a year, its effects are waning in the U.S. thanks to millions being vaccinated. However, the notorious virus has impacted virtually everything, and arguably, it affected healthcare the most. Not only did it make hospitals overflow with patients, but it also led to new challenges for hospitals – keeping hospitals clean, reducing hospital-acquired infections, and preventing compromised patient information. While we’ve focused on infection control in hospitals a number of times, let’s take a look at how COVID-19 impacted patient data, why hackers are after it, and how patient data protection can be ensured.

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Patient data protection took a backseat during the pandemic 

The U.S. healthcare system has always had several issues that restricted it from reaching its full potential – one of which is inadequate patient data protection. COVID-19, unfortunately, made it worse and introduced brand new challenges for hospitals and health systems – let’s see how. 

COVID-19 forced entire sectors of the population to work from their homes and stop commuting. As a result, organizations had to adopt remote working policies in order to survive. While frontline healthcare workers didn’t have the luxury to work from their homes, many healthcare workers were able to work remotely. Many of these employees handled patient information, and as they worked from home, they used various devices to access, transmit, receive, and work on sensitive patient information.

The problem here is that prior to the pandemic, such patient information was only accessible using devices, networks, and tools authorized by the organization – ensuring an adequate level of patient data protection. However, to ensure hospitals and clinics could continue operating, many rules were relaxed by organizations – some of which are these stringent device policies.

As a result, patient data security was substantially compromised by sizable healthcare providers. Even without the relaxed rules, it would have been a nightmare to track who accessed the information using their personal devices – there are just too many complications involved.

How secure is patient data currently? 

However, several hospitals have opened their doors to patients, for in-person visits, and more. But even in those hospitals, many healthcare workers are still working remotely, meaning that patient data protection is still at considerable risk due to unsecured networks, personal devices, etc. Moreover, healthcare providers have had their hands full with COVID-19, not to mention that numbers of data breaches have increased significantly – you can just google it and see how many patients are at risk.

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But why are hackers so determined to cause breaches to steal patient information? 

Patient data is heavily targeted by hackers

Well, healthcare providers have many restrictions – one of which is very meager budgets to upgrade their cybersecurity measures. As a result, they are quite vulnerable to breaches. Other than being a relatively easy target, stealing patent information is extremely profitable for hackers – they can sell each record for up to $1000 in the black market! The buyers impersonate the patients and since there’s no effective patient identity verification system present for all healthcare providers, many of these fraudsters get away with it. Many hackers are even holding the data and demanding a ransom to not leak or sell it online.

Healthcare providers are having quite a tough time. Before the pandemic, they had a plethora of issues, during the pandemic, pandemonium reigned. And after the pandemic, rising data breaches are among the existing issues. 

However, if healthcare providers focus on accurate patient identification, they can solve several problems – let’s see how.

Protect patient information with accurate patient identification

Accurately identifying patients solves a number of issues. For starters, patient misidentification itself is a huge but overlooked issue – caregivers rally each year for a patient identifier. Accurate patient identification prevents duplicate medical records right from the start, prevents claim denials, ensures that the right patient is receiving the treatment, enhances healthcare outcomes, and improves patient safety too. All of these lead to improved goodwill, lower patient safety incidents, and better bottom lines. RightPatient is the leading touchless biometric patient identification system that checks all the boxes above and has even more benefits , but how does it protect patient data? 

Well, RightPatient uses a database of patients’ faces to validate their identities. When fraudsters attempt to impersonate the patients, even if the data is breached, RightPatient detects the difference between the live photo and the one saved during registration. It easily red-flags the fraudsters, prevents medical identity theft in real-time, and protects patient data in the process. 

RightPatient has been proudly protecting millions of patient records in several healthcare facilities for years – are you protecting your patients’ information and ensuring their safety?

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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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The Advantages of Telehealth and Why Hospitals Must be Cautious With It

Telehealth has been around for a while now, even if it only came to prominence during the last year. A paper from the University of California, Davis suggests that telehealth started in the early 1960s. Authoritative websites run by major healthcare providers have been around for at least 20 years. The last year or so has seen remote solutions come into their own, with regular consultations held by video call, support groups for all kinds of ailments moving to online platforms, and routine telephone screening used to allocate patients to the appropriate staff member – exposing virtually everyone to the advantages of telehealth.

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Given the pandemic, people were told to shelter in place. The healthcare system had no spare capacity to deal with seeing patients face to face. Patients were told not to attend the hospital or their regular clinic. Elective surgeries were canceled and routine appointments became virtual, conducted first by telephone and then by video call. The stuff of science fiction suddenly hit the mainstream – slowly demonstrating the advantages of telehealth.

Medical staff members are dealing with ever more complicated cases, among other things. Anything which can simplify and streamline this necessary engagement has to be tried, at least. The pandemic allowed a trial that otherwise might have been seen as driving patients away.

Remote healthcare has been growing in the last few decades. From emails requesting medical records or consultant second opinions, to routine online forms to fill out for regular repeat prescriptions or book appointments, the ability to integrate technology in healthcare is clear. Many primary healthcare practitioners no longer accept requests for repeat prescriptions by telephone but instead require patients to fill in their details online. Imaging reports can be filed online and shared electronically with a patient’s care team, while telephone or video consultations can save a patient having to visit the clinic unless a physical exam is necessary. This may allow the patient to fit the call into a scheduled break at work or arrange for others to take care of dependents for a short time.

The advantages of telehealth everyone loves

Telehealth does not necessarily even need anything more than a cellphone connection. A video connection may be preferable in some cases, but most screening and initial consultations can be carried out over the phone. No costly and time-consuming travel for the patient, no risk of delays for the practitioner. In these times of social distancing, it is best to minimize in-person contact, and telehealth is ideal for this. Patients who have been advised to shelter in place can still receive advice, treatment, prescriptions, and counseling with no risk to themselves or their specialist.

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Telehealth also speeds up the sharing of information between healthcare teams. A report and images can be shared by email over a secure link far quicker than a physical package can be delivered. Sharing patient information online can expedite care, which in turn can improve patient outcomes, quality, and safety in healthcare.

Telehealth needs to be used with caution

While there are numerous advantages of telehealth, it still needs to be used with caution. Technology can be used to help healthcare, as long as it is used securely and correctly. No one wants a patient safety incident resulting from misdirected confidential information or an incorrect bill, after all. Telehealth is more than simply a way to help hospitals improve their finances. Facilities need to ensure they can demonstrate to patients and staff that telehealth is secure as well as slick. It can allow patients to access healthcare when they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, as it will put them in touch with a regular member of their team who is familiar with their case. This means a higher quality of care than if the patient was simply searching online for treatment options.

One option which is not mentioned so often is that telehealth visits can be billed faster. Good for the provider, not so great for the patient, who may also have to attend an in-person appointment for a physical examination after screening. Both the initial virtual consultation and the appointment on site are likely to be chargeable, even though initial screening has often previously been free. Some providers may decide to offer a package of mixed virtual and face-to-face appointments, but should always make this clear to the patient.

Telehealth is not for everyone

Telehealth is convenient for those who are busy and anyone who can get to grips with new software quickly. For patients who are not technologically aware, anyone who lives off the beaten track, in rural locations, or off-grid altogether, it is likely to be more of a challenge to access. Virtual consultations have their place, but in-person healthcare must remain for those who cannot or choose not to access it online.

Some patients will, after all, have reservations about virtual appointments due to concerns about data and personal security. A biometric touchless patient identification platform like RightPatient may help calm their worries. Because it is biometric rather than in-person or touchscreen activated, it can prevent medical identity theft during both telehealth or in-person visits.