As I was reading about Cedar Sinai’s recent implementation of Bottomline’s Healthcare Data and Security Solution, I couldn’t help but to wonder – why is patient data at risk in the first place?

Clearly, we can all understand why big box shops like Target and Home Depot were hacked; credit card numbers are better than cash. Siphoning electronic funds is the digital age’s form of Bonnie and Clyde-style bank robbing. So, realistically, what could a hacker possibly stand to gain from breaching healthcare data security and gaining access to my records?

After consulting with a few colleagues in the healthcare industry, I realized there is one extraordinarily valuable piece of information that all U.S. residents have – a social security number. With that 9-digit treasure chest, individuals with more nefarious tendencies can open a line of credit under your SSN, file for a fraudulent tax refund and open financial accounts. But, that’s not all.

Medical identity threat was up 40 percent in 2013. Stolen health credentials go for about $10 each, double and sometimes triple the black market value for credit card numbers. This information can be used in hundreds of ways, but what they’re really after is your identity.

In some cases, only a few that I found, are hackers ever really interested in your maladies. Social security checks, yes, credit lines, yes… your latest blood pressure reading? Not so much. But it does happen. Mostly, though, they’re breaching healthcare data security so they can pretend to be you, convincing a bank they are you, which is much more valuable than health history.

So that’s why protecting patient data is extremely important to healthcare organizations. It isn’t just about not having the world know about your heart condition, although that certainly is one reason. It’s about what people are capable of doing once they get ahold of all the information that they need to take control of your financial credibility. Cedar Sinai’s decision to implement Bottomline puts them one step farther away from a reputation-damaging data breach.

That being said, what can smaller companies do for healthcare data security? Bottomline has a price tag that could bankrupt small specialty providers. What are the security options out there for the healthcare SMBs?

While there are many options out there, IBM has a whole arsenal of data, application and integration security options – many of which are scalable for both size and budget. Fortune 500s all the way to private locally-owned practices can benefit from a number of these solutions. These security products are packaged to meet individual organizations’ needs, ranging from identify protection to fraud prevention, from encryption to vulnerability assessment. How do you know what’s right for you? As an IBM Business Partner, TxMQ assists companies with the selection, deployment and maintenance of enterprise security options. As experts in securely integrating solutions in the cloud, we can not only help make your patient records more secure, but we can help you digitize them, as well. We’ll stay with you for as short or as long as you need us.

Photo from BrainFoodTV.com

Sara Palmer is a content consultant and senior technical writer at TxMQ.

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