According to a recent Ponemon Institute study, nearly 1.5 million Americans have been victims of medical identity theft with an estimated total cost of $28.6 billion. This is approximately $20,000 per victim. Though recent legislation, like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the associated provisions under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, highlights the need to address privacy and security across the U.S. healthcare system, no controls have been put in place to assure that patient information is always protected.
"The individuals whose medical identities are stolen have to deal with lingering effects, like erroneous medical expenses, problems with insurance, and incorrect data on their medical records that can lead to potentially fatal medical errors," said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance. "To prevent this, patients need an unambiguous way to identify themselves to their healthcare provider when accessing patient records or requesting healthcare services, whether it be in person or over a network. This brief explains how two-factor authentication with smart cards can accomplish this, and decrease medical identity theft." In "Medical Identity Theft in Healthcare," the Smart Card Alliance Healthcare Council describes how two-factor authentication with smart card technology allows patients and providers to securely access personal health information. Smart card technology is a proven technology, already used in U.S. electronic passports, and in the U.S. federal government's employee ID cards that are used to access the nation's most secure computer networks and facilities. The technology includes a tamper-resistant chip with security software that can be embedded into a card, token or mobile device (like a mobile phone). The smart card protects the patient's medical identity; they can use it to securely store personal health information, authorize provider access to that information, and securely transmit data to healthcare systems.
"As the Healthcare Council is comprised of industry professionals from all parts of the healthcare sector, we have a unique perspective on the issues facing the industry and have a great forum to collaborate on possible solutions. This is especially important as healthcare moves quickly toward electronic records, and ready solutions are needed to address the security and privacy challenges ahead," said Paul Contino, vice president of Information Technology at Mount Sinai Medical Center and chair of the Smart Card Alliance Healthcare Council, which published this report. "Readers of this brief will come away with an understanding of how identity and authentication solutions based on smart card technology can provide an ideal foundation for improving the security and privacy of health information systems and electronic health records."
The full brief, "Medical Identity Theft in Healthcare," is available to read and download on the Smart Card Alliance Web site.
About the Smart Card Alliance Healthcare Council
The Smart Card Alliance Healthcare Council brings together payers, providers, and technologists to promote the adoption of smart cards in U.S. healthcare organizations and within the national health IT infrastructure. The Healthcare Council provides a forum where all stakeholders can collaborate to educate the market on the how smart cards can be used and to work on issues inhibiting the industry.
About the Smart Card Alliance
The Smart Card Alliance is a not-for-profit, multi-industry association working to stimulate the understanding, adoption, use and widespread application of smart card technology.
Through specific projects such as education programs, market research, advocacy, industry relations and open forums, the Alliance keeps its members connected to industry leaders and innovative thought. The Alliance is the single industry voice for smart cards, leading industry discussion on the impact and value of smart cards in the U.S. and Latin America. For more information please visit http://www.smartcardalliance.org.