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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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Patient Verification Helps Hospitals Deal with Decreasing Revenue as COVID-19 Cases Rise

Hospitals and health systems are constantly being challenged by the pandemic. Sure, COVID-19 has affected virtually every business – many organizations have declared bankruptcy while others have shuttered their doors. However, most, if not all of these organizations, had their employees work from home. Healthcare providers, on the other hand, had to face unprecedented challenges head-on, such as frontline healthcare teams risking their lives, losing billions of dollars, patient verification issues, data breaches, and more.

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Unfortunately, it looks like the battle with COVID-19 is far from over for healthcare providers. With the Delta variant once again wreaking havoc, caregivers are experiencing razor-thin margins. That being said, accurate patient verification CAN prevent many issues, helping hospitals survive this challenging period. Let’s take a look at a few stats that show how concerning the new variant is and how positive patient identification can help caregivers.

Some recent statistics that show a rise in margins and expenses 

While things were definitely getting better with millions being vaccinated across the U.S. and businesses slowly opening up, the Delta variant of COVID-19 has struck back with full force. While healthcare providers have been facing lower losses and improved margins when compared to the first half of 2020, a new report sheds light on many facts. While many indicators show that things are going in the right direction, some show that the effects of COVID-19 are far from over.

The “median operating margin index” in June was 2.8%, excluding funding from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relied, and Economic Security) Act. When taking funding into account, it was 4.3%.

What do these numbers mean for hospitals and health systems? Well, it’s an increase of almost 90% (excluding CARES Act Funding) or 48.7% (including the funding) when compared to the first half of 2020. All of these numbers are based on 900 hospitals that have participated monthly for the last three years. 

When it comes to patient volumes, it’s a mixed bag. Patient volumes were higher when compared to 2020, but lower than they were before the pandemic. For those who want specifics, discharges between January and June of 2021 were 10.1% higher than in the first half of 2020, but when compared to the first half of 2019, patient volumes are down 4.4%. A similar trend can be seen for ER visits in hospitals, i.e. higher than in the first half of 2020 but lower than in the first half of 2019.

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Fortunately, the revenue of hospitals and health systems has increased compared to both 2020 and 2019! According to the same report mentioned above, this is because of outpatient visits. “Gross operating revenue,” excluding CARES Act funding for January to June of this year, was 18.2% higher than the same period of 2020 and 7.9% higher than the same period of 2019.

But all of these statistics look good for hospitals, right?

Well, while all of these do look good, expenses have also increased – affecting margins significantly. The first half of 2021 saw an 8.5% rise in expenses when compared to the first half of last year, and an increase of almost 10% when compared to the first half of 2019. 

While margins are increasing, expenses are increasing as well

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over – the Delta variant has reached the U.S. and has been in the news for the past few weeks. While healthcare providers have opened their doors to regular patients, COVID-19 cases are spiking once again, and this might be detrimental to hospital margins according to an official associated with the study mentioned above. 

Hospitals need to identify ways to reduce losses, improve patient safety, and avoid unwanted incidents that hurt the bottom line. But how can patient verification help?

How patient verification helps improve hospital margins

Accurate patient identification has been a topic of discussion for several years now, and identification errors have also given rise to a number of studies.

Accurate patient identification helps

  • Prevent medical record errors such as duplicate medical records and overlays
  • Prevent medical identity theft in real-time
  • Protect patient data integrity
  • Reduce denied claims by ensuring accurate, consistent information within medical records
  • Prevent medical errors that might lead to patient safety incidents
  • Avoid dangerous patient mix-ups, including transplant mix-ups
  • Ensure CMS compliance by sending out proper e-notifications to appropriate caregivers
  • Improve patient outcomes
  • Reduce hospital readmissions

All of the above, when considered together, can drastically reduce losses and improve a hospital’s margin. We know this because our leading patient identification platform has been helping several healthcare providers for years.

Patient verification made easy with RightPatient

A number of healthcare providers have chosen RightPatient to manage their patients’ medical records. In a post-pandemic world, RightPatient’s touchless patient ID platform makes the most sense, as it keeps everyone safe by preventing physical contact (when compared to other methods of identification). 

RightPatient reduces denied claims, improves patient safety, prevents duplicates and overlays, and prevents patient identity theft – boosting the bottom line of hospitals. 

How are YOU planning to reduce losses and improve margins at your healthcare facility?

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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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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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Hospitals that Identify Patients Correctly Enjoy Several Benefits

We typically talk about grave situations – stories of patient mix-ups, healthcare data breaches, medical identity theft cases, denied claims, and more. However, this time, we will look at the more positive aspects – the additional benefits that healthcare providers who identify patients correctly enjoy. These range from preventing unwanted patient safety incidents within the premises to enhancing patient outcomes.

However, did you know that our touchless biometric patient identification platform can provide far more benefits? More on that later – let’s dive deep into the topmost benefits of ensuring proper patient identification in hospitals.

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Why hospitals must identify patients correctly 

Well, in order to understand that, first, one must understand why patient identification is such a big deal. For starters, patient identification is quite problematic in the U.S. healthcare system for several reasons. Since no effective standardized patient identifier has ever been implemented in the U.S., healthcare providers use different methods, solutions, or strategies to verify their patients, and most of them suffer from patient identification errors and the consequences that follow.

Fortunately, responsible healthcare providers don’t have to suffer from these issues because they have made patient safety their number one priority. These providers are utilizing effective solutions like RightPatient to eliminate errors by helping them identify patients correctly. 

So, what are the benefits of accurately identifying patients? 

Top benefits enjoyed by hospitals that identify patients correctly

Prevents fraudulent cases right from the start

Although wrong patient identification and medical identity theft are both crucial issues of the U.S. healthcare system, many don’t know that preventing the former can also prevent the latter.

It’s quite simple – since there’s no standardized and rigid way to identify patients accurately in most hospitals, fraudsters aren’t identified right off the bat. In fact, many medical identity theft cases remain undetected until the patient receives a shocking bill or notices anomalies with their EHRs. 

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Hospitals that identify patients correctly can prevent medical identity theft in real-time. When the fraudster comes in, proper patient identification will help officials flag them and catch them red-handed.

This is also applicable even in the case of data breaches. Even if healthcare data is breached, accurate identification will lead to fraudsters being caught in the act, preventing medical identity theft and reducing substantial expenses of rectifying medical record errors and litigation costs down the line.

Prevents expensive and dangerous medical record errors

One of the reasons why patient identification is such a mess has already been mentioned – the lack of an effective patient identifier. However, another reason is the overwhelming medical record errors that already exist in the systems. Duplicate medical records and overlays, namely, have been causing patient mix-ups, leading to the wrong patients getting transplants, incorrect treatments, and more. These duplicate medical record errors typically are created during the registration process, and both their creation and use can be eliminated if patients are identified accurately.

See, if the patient is accurately identified right from the start and the appropriate medical record is used throughout the patient’s medical care history, then duplicates and overlays can be avoided – eliminating the issues caused by them for both caregivers and patients, preserving authentic patient data. This leads to another benefit of proper patient identification.

Ensures patient data integrity

As mentioned, medical record errors, and patient misidentification in general, lead to patient data corruption. Unless patient data integrity is maintained, the information is useless for healthcare providers and quite dangerous for patients. Imagine if a patient has cancer but gets treated for heart disease – it would be catastrophic! 

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Patient data integrity failures lead to the wrong treatment plans, detrimental healthcare outcomes, readmissions, and even deaths. However, accurate patient identification ensures that the correct information is being recorded in the appropriate medical records – ensuring patient data integrity.

Enhances patient safety

By now, it should be clear that positive patient identification prevents a plethora of issues such as duplicates, patient data corruption, medical identity theft, among other things. However, identifying patients accurately also leads to better healthcare outcomes and prevents medical errors, improving patient safety in the process.

Medical errors caused by mix-ups are prevented which also reduces readmissions – improving patient outcomes. Accurate information arms healthcare providers with the relevant details about the right patient, helping them make informed decisions, something that’s not possible when patients are wrongly identified. 

Reduces denied claims

Denied claims are a huge burden for any given healthcare provider, however, most of them can be prevented with accurate patient identification. Let’s look at an example of exactly how denied claims and patient misidentification are related. 

Suppose a patient, A, comes in for a checkup and the physician recommends a follow-up, and a small surgical procedure is planned. During the first two visits, A has been identified properly and their medical record includes the proper information. However, prior to the surgery, A is misidentified and the wrong EHR is assigned. Moving forward, everything will be recorded in the wrong EHR.

Now, when it comes to receiving payment for the surgery, the hospital sends a claim to the patient’s insurance provider. However, when the insurance company detects inaccurate coding due to incorrect information, the insurance company “denies” the claim. These billing and coding errors need to be fixed which takes up a considerable amount of resources and time – creating inefficiencies.

Denied claims can cost north of $4 million for the average health system, making it extremely costly for even the largest provider. 

Positive patient identification can prevent most denied claims as they are often caused by medical record mix-ups. Moreover, this also frees up FTEs (full-time equivalents) to do their jobs properly – improving efficiency and eliminating bottlenecks. 

Improves the quality of healthcare services

Patient identification errors have been rampant for almost two decades, leading to data quality issues. As a result, this information cannot be trusted – if the data is inaccurate, then everything moving forward will also be full of issues. 

Proper patient identification ensures that the right patient is connected to their accurate medical record at all times – this itself drastically improves the quality of services they receive. For instance, they won’t get redundant lab tests, incorrect medication, or the wrong treatment plans.

All in all, patient misidentification might seem trivial to many, but if accurate patient identification is ensured, then it brings several benefits for healthcare providers, patients, insurance companies, and everyone else involved.

However, did you know that our patient ID platform, RightPatient, can do even more than everything mentioned above?

RightPatient helps healthcare providers identify patients correctly

RightPatient is the leading biometric patient identification platform that has been helping several healthcare providers protect their patients. However, the factor that sets RightPatient apart from others is that it’s entirely touchless – patients only need to look at the camera during the verification process. The platform matches the saved photo with the live one and provides the accurate EHR once a match is identified.

The fact that RightPatient is contactless is why prominent healthcare providers have chosen it. The platform improves infection control and reduces HAIs (hospital-acquired infections) as there’s no physical contact required, making it ideal in a post-pandemic world.

Caregivers such as Community Medical Centers, Catholic Health Services of Long Island, and the University Health Care System have been using RightPatient and enjoying several benefits such as preventing medical identity theft, reducing duplicates and overlays, protecting patient records, and boosting their bottom lines. Be a responsible healthcare provider now and use RightPatient to see the difference it makes.

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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.