The risk of medical identity theft in the United States is growing according to the 2013 Survey on Medical Identity Theft conducted by the Ponemon Institute. This is bad news for patients and medical offices alike, as the consequences of medical identity theft become more and more severe. Medical practices that allow a data breach face stiff financial penalties, damage to their reputation, and costly legal issues.
Proactively preventing medical identity theft is critical in your medical practice, and it begins with the secure management, storage, and destruction of all physical and electronic records. Working with a records management company ensures both your office and your patients are protected against an attack from medical identity thieves.
Consequences of Medical Identity Theft
It can be months or even years before a patient realizes his or her personal medical information has been stolen. According to the same study by the Ponemon Institute, 36 percent of medical identity theft victims pay an average of $18,860 out-of-pocket to restore their identities-and most will never receive retribution unless they take civil action against the medical practice that allowed their information to be stolen.
Significant financial problems can arise from identity theft for your office as well. You must spend a huge amount of time, money (including attorney fees), and resources. Your reputation will be ruined and, when all is said and done, you may be forced to shut down your practice.
But as bad as a data breach can be for your office, the consequences for patients can be disastrous. After all, misrepresented medical information can lead to a misdiagnosis, treatment delay, or an error in prescriptions. Your patients may not be able to receive the help they need simply because your office didn’t have a secure records management system in place. record keeping
How to Improve Your Medical Office’s Records Management
Patient authentication can be one of the simplest ways to avoid medical identity theft in your practice. It may sound obvious, but many healthcare providers simply don’t do a good job of verifying the identity of the patients they treat. Taking a few extra precautions can go a long way towards protecting your medical office from liability and your patients from medical identity theft.
In addition to using better verification techniques, your office must manage both digital and paper records more efficiently. Medical identity theft often stems from unsecured file storage-where someone can simply walk in, take a few files, and disappear without being noticed. The easiest way to avoid this risk is to use a secure medical records storage facility for your archived paper records.
Also, hiring a reputable records management company can help keep all files (in and out of the facility) secured from medical identity theft. These companies offer on-site and off-site medical records storage services, help safeguard digital records, and ensure compliance with all federal and state privacy regulations.
If you run a medical office, there’s no way to avoid handling sensitive patient data. But you’re in control of how well you prevent that data from falling into the hands of an identity thief. It is imperative that you take the proper measures to protect your patients’ records. A professional records management company offers a broad range of services, including physical and digital records storage, indexing, active file management, and secure shredding to keep your office compliant and protect your patients’ identiti