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Data Breaches Can Cost Over $6 Million – Can Hospitals Protect Patient Data?

It’s safe to say at this point that data breaches in the US healthcare system are quite common and are showing no signs of slowing down. According to a study by the reputed Ponemon Institute, healthcare data breaches cost over $6 million, on average. This cost is 60% more than the costs incurred for data breaches by all the other sectors outside of healthcare. For the record, data breaches in other sectors cost about $4 million. Thus, it is quite a serious issue for any given healthcare provider. 

Some statistics 

The study took into account 500 organizations that were affected by a data breach. The conclusion is unsurprising – healthcare is the worst affected sector in terms of financials – holding the infamous place for the ninth year. 

The costs come from various sources – regulatory, legal, and technical functions, and includes detecting the breaches, giving appropriate responses regarding them, and notifying patients as well. Goodwill is also affected – patients lose trust when their providers are hit by a data breach, unwanted attention is attracted, and can slow down several operations tackling the breaches. 

The study also revealed that healthcare data breach costs have increased by 5% in 2018. Compared to healthcare providers spending $408 per record in 2018, an estimated $429 will be spent per lost or stolen record. The report also sheds light on a worrying trend – longterm impacts on the providers. The aftermath of a data breach can cause increased monitoring for further breaches as well as millions in losses, both of whose effects can be felt for years after the incident. 

More trouble

Another study showed that smaller hospitals have trouble maintaining their cybersecurity protocols properly. Usually, the majority of organizations take around 245 days to contain or report a breach. These can lead to huge costs, as HIPAA mandates that healthcare providers let authorities know about the breaches within 60 days of the occurrences. These hospitals also get hit by lawsuits from their patients – the reason being their failure to protect sensitive patient data. 

Positively, those providers who proactively report breaches and have measures in place are reducing costs. Many who are doing this have reduced their costs by $1.23 million compared to those who did not.

Data breaches lead to medical identity theft

Usually, these data breaches lead to the patient records being exposed or sold in the black market. Many can buy from these stolen records and assume the identities of the affected patients, generating medical identity theft. This can cost the patients thousands of dollars and they have to pay for services they never used.

Can medical identity theft be prevented?

Fortunately, it can be – RightPatient does exactly that! RightPatient is a biometric patient identification solution that locks the medical records of the patients. It attaches the biometric data along with a photo of the patient with their medical record during enrollment. Whenever the patient comes in later for availing healthcare services, the platform accurately identifies the medical record within seconds after biometric verification. In the case of medical identity theft, whenever a third-party comes and assumes the identity of the patient, the platform immediately red flags the situation, preventing medical identity theft. Even if there are data breaches, the locked medical records will stay secure as access to them is protected via biometric verification. Several healthcare providers such as Community Medical Centers and University Medical Center are using RightPatient to safeguard millions of patient records. 

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