The official blog of the Lung Institute.
At the Lung Institute, we make it our business to safeguard our patients’ personal data. All employees who handle patient information are held to a high standard when it comes to information security. It’s wise to be vigilant of how your personal physician’s staff handles sensitive information. When hackers steal personal information, it can result in identity theft, a crime in which the criminal can pose as an individual by using the victim’s personal information online. Although the responsible professionals of the Lung Institute medical records staff make a supreme effort to protect customers’ and employees’ vital information, they can’t control what happens outside the Lung Institute offices. That’s why we’re offering these Lung Institute Tips on Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft.
The Evolving Threat
The Fifth Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy and Security of Healthcare Data by the Ponemon Institute found that the major cause of the compromise of sensitive information for the past few years had been theft or loss of smartphones, laptop computers and other electronic devices. But in 2014, for the first time, most medical identity theft incidents resulted from a direct cyber-attack. This disturbing trend continues, and these days more than 90 percent of health care organizations have lost data to hackers at least once in the past two years.
Why the Medical Sector?
Hackers have found that medical institutions are easier to crack than financial institutions. In the financial sector, more effort has been put forth to protect accounts against intrusion and exploitation by hackers, thieves, and even terrorists. Consequently, the financial sector has developed a hardened cyber-defense compared to the medical sector. The fact that medical institutions present a softer target, combined with the high potential payoff to thieves of gaining individuals’ sensitive personal information, has silhouetted the health care sector as the prime target for cyber-attack.
What to Look For
When criminals steal someone’s personal medical data, they gain access to social security numbers, address and phone number, and things like credit history and credit accounts. They may also be able to change your personal information. For example, a criminal might apply for a new credit card and have it sent to a different address. If they gain access to a person’s drug prescriptions, they may be able to purchase prescription drugs in the victim’s name or take other liberties with hijacked accounts.
We have few alternatives in today’s high-tech society to relying on others to manage our personal medical information. However, with a few simple precautions we can mitigate the risk of medical identity theft. When we take personal data security seriously, we can “harden” our accounts, making them resistant to break-ins. If thieves don’t see an easy way to break in, they’ll move on to another target.
Here are 3 Lung Institute Tips on Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft:
- Keep a sharp eye on your finances. You need to know about it right away if a criminal gains access to one of your accounts. Look for transactions that don’t make sense, and question the account or records custodian. If you live in Dallas, and someone just used your credit card to buy a tank of gas in Boise, it’s time to sound the alarm. Less obviously, if you find prescriptions in your record for drugs you don’t use, or if unfamiliar addresses or phone numbers appear, consider it. It could be clerical error, or it could mean a struggle for your identity is around the corner.
- Review your medical records. You can’t control luck, but you can take steps to improve it. When was the last time you reviewed your medical records? Take some time to read through them, and you may find something you don’t recognize. It might not even be fraud. Sometimes clerical errors occur that can be fixed with a phone call.
- Read over your medical insurance provider’s explanation of benefits. It tells you what to expect, and it may be the first tip-off that someone is using your benefits without your knowledge.
What Else Can I Do
At the Lung Institute, our mission is to improve the lives of those who need it most through the best means available. We hope our Lung Institute tips on protecting yourself from identity theft are helpful for you. Our patients’ medical records and safety are a top priority. Through the services we provide, the empowering and informative articles we write and the stem cell research we conduct, we aim to improve the lives of our patients.
If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like interstitial lung disease (ILD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or pulmonary fibrosis, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Contact us today at (800) 729-3065 to see if you qualify for stem cell therapy, and find out what stem cell therapy could mean for you.