Patient data security risks climb with ACA rollout

April 8, 2014

While healthcare organizations have decreased the number of breaches of patient data and improved their ability to control the costs associated with data breaches, healthcare reform has increased the risk to patient privacy, according to a study.

 

While healthcare organizations have decreased the number of breaches of patient data and improved their ability to control the costs associated with data breaches, healthcare reform has increased the risk to patient privacy, according to the fourth annual benchmark study on patient privacy and data security conducted by the Ponemon Institute.

The survey, which gathered data from heathcare networks, integrated delivery systems, and standalone hospitals and clinics, revealed that 90% of all healthcare organizations had at least one data breach in the last two years, with 38% reporting more than five breaches. This represented an improvement from the prior year when 45% had more than five breaches.

At the same time, the surveyed organizations said they believe the risks to patient information have  increased, largely because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and participation in accountable care organizations (ACOs). Nearly 70% of  the organizations say the ACA increases risks to patient information, primarily because of concerns about insecure exchange of information between providers and the government, patient data existing in insecure databases, and patient registration on insecure websites.

Two-thirds of respondents said they believe the exchange of health information among ACO participants also increases the risk.

The survey included 388 interviews with representatives from 91 healthcare organizations.