Targeting Healthcare Data

In light of last week’s announcement that the records of 80 million customers were stolen from healthcare insurer Anthem, it is worth noting that healthcare organizations have a particularly heavy data protection burden to bear. As the NY Times reported, Protected Health Information (PHI) is incredibly valuable. Where credit card records were selling for just 33 cents each, a patient medical record on the black market sold for $251.

Why is PHI so valuable?

Credit card numbers are easy to cancel and change so the usefulness of the information is limited. Information like social security numbers, health plan numbers, email addresses, phone numbers – these are much more difficult to change so fraudsters can use this information for much longer. In addition, it is much easier to detect credit fraud than healthcare fraud. I can check my credit rating every month and view my credit card statement online every day. It never crosses my mind to call my medical insurance company to get a statement of activity and I don’t even know if I can check my balance online. Most of us are only going to find out that we are a victim of medical insurance fraud when we require a medical procedure and find our claim is denied. Worse, if someone with different allergies and medical conditions is adding their information to my electronic medical record, my doctors could end up prescribing me medications that could damage my health further or even put my life in jeopardy.

In addition to having the most valuable information, the healthcare industry must also protect some of the most mobile data. The very nature of delivering healthcare requires that sensitive information be shared with several different groups. Add the intensification of mobile device use and it is easy to conclude that protecting healthcare information is a pressing challenge.

This Wednesday, February 11th Sienna Group and TITUS are presenting a webinar [link updated to webinar recording] that will review tips and best practices to protect healthcare data. Whether you are concerned primarily with protecting PHI or are innovating new medicines, devices, or techniques that require protection of intellectual property (IP) this webinar will provide a foundation to keeping sensitive data more secure.

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