Health Information Management

Latest study shows major increase in data breaches

HIM-HIPAA Insider, February 28, 2012

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If you thought the healthcare industry was doing a better job protecting patients' PHI, think again. The latest industry study shows just the opposite: The frequency of breaches is up 32% in the last year. And they are taking a heavy financial toll, costing an estimated $6.5 billion each year. Those are the results of the latest Ponemon Institute study, conducted by the Traverse City, MI, company that conducts independent research on privacy, data protection, and information security policy.

The good news? Providers now have two years of data to follow when it comes to numbers of breaches, says Rick Kam, president and cofounder of ID Experts, the Portland, OR, company that sponsored the study. But based on the numbers, "that trend is not too good," he says.

What's to blame for the majority of breaches? Sloppy mistakes by staff members and unsecured mobile devices cause many of the breaches, the study shows.

Hospitals and healthcare providers averaged four data breaches over the past two years, putting patients' PHI at high risk, the study concludes. The Ponemon Institute released its second annual benchmark study, the "2011 Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy and Data Security," in December 2011. A total of 72 healthcare organizations participated in the study.

Employee negligence is the primary culprit for these breaches, with 41% of organizations surveyed blaming sloppy employee mistakes for data breaches involving PHI.

Editor’s note: Read the entire article in the February issue of Briefings on HIPAA.



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