Health Information Management

Integrate identity theft into staff member training

HIM-HIPAA Insider, January 26, 2010

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Educate your patients about playing an active role in fighting medical identity theft, make your policies tougher, and take a proactive approach to minimize the increasing risk, experts say.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology commissioned Booz Allen Hamilton, a McLean, VA–based firm, to research medical identity theft in the United States. According to the final report, titled Medical Identity Theft Final Report, organizations should integrate identity theft into staff member training. Organizations should incorporate medical identity theft prevention into existing training and awareness programs, says Dan Steinberg, associate at Booz Allen Hamilton and coauthor of the final report. 

“A major step toward preventing medical identity theft is to be sure that staff are familiar with it and will have reason to suspect something is not quite right if the patient presents with conditions or demographics that don’t match their records,” says Steinberg. Make medical identity theft a separate discussion during training and orientation, and use friendly reminders to let staff members know that it remains an organizational concern.

In addition to providing tips on how to spot suspicious activity, educate staff members about what to do with that information. “If a provider discovers an identity theft, it must take immediate action to prevent further unlawful disclosures and should contact its legal counsel concerning how best to notify affected patients,” says Bill Roach, JD, healthcare attorney at McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago.

Editor’s note: For more tips, view the February 2010 issue of Briefings on HIPAA.

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