New HIMSS Analytics Survey Reveals Healthcare "Business Associates" Are Unprepared for Data Breach

68 Percent of Provider Respondents Indicated that the HITECH Act’s Expanded Breach Notification Requirements will Result in More Discovery and Reporting of Incidents

CHICAGO and BEAVERTON, Ore. — November 17, 2009 — Business associates, those who handle private patient information for healthcare organizations—including everyone from billing, credit bureaus, benefits management, legal services, claims processing, insurance brokers, data processing firms, pharmacy chains, accounting firms, temporary office personnel, and offshore transcription vendors —are largely unprepared to meet the new data breach related obligations included in the HITECH Act. 

HIMSS Analytics announced its findings of a national survey of hospitals and business associates to check the state of healthcare vulnerability to data breach.  The research, commissioned by ID ExpertsÒ, revealed that approximately one-third of business associates surveyed were not aware that they need to adhere to federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy and security requirements, compared to 87 percent of health providers.  Hospitals and health providers are taking action:

  • 85 percent of health providers said they will take steps to ensure that data held by business associates will not be breached. 
  • Nearly half of hospitals, 47 percent, said they would actually terminate their contracts with their business associates for violations.

“Business associates could represent a risk to healthcare organizations, especially hospitals,” said Lisa Gallagher, BSEE, CISM, CPHIMS, Senior Director, Privacy and Security, HIMSS.  “The lack of awareness of new federal regulations by business associates coupled with the large number of third parties hired by hospitals to control costs through outsourcing, points to a potential area of concern. Hospitals, in partnership with their business associates, need to actively prepare to comply with the new rules when these breaches happen.”

The research also found that:

  • 50 percent of large hospitals experienced at least one data breach this year
  • 68 percent of all hospitals indicated that the HITECH Act’s expanded breach notification requirements will result in the discovery and reporting of more incidents, and 57 percent reported that they now have a greater level of awareness of data breaches and breach risk
  • 90 percent indicated they have changed or plan to change policies and procedures to prevent and detect data breaches. 

“This study highlights the tremendous risk exposure for healthcare organizations” said Bob Gregg, CEO of ID Experts.  “Despite an increase in risk assessments conducted, data breach is on the rise and patients are at a high risk level for medical identity theft and fraud where an unknown person will use an identity to illegally receive benefits or services.  We help healthcare organizations understand what to do when a breach happens so that they and their business associates can act quickly—putting patients first—and respond in a caring and compliant matter.”
View the complete HIMSS Analytics survey, Evaluating HITECH’s Impact on Healthcare Privacy and Security.  The HIMSS Analytics research study, commissioned by ID Experts, surveyed respondents in this telephone-based survey who were senior information technology (IT) executives, Chief Security Officers, Chief Medical Information Officers (CMIOs), Chief Information Security Officers and Chief Privacy Offers at hospitals throughout the United States.  In addition, HIMSS Analytics contacted individuals at vendor organizations that have business associate relationships with healthcare organizations. 

About HIMSS Analytics
HIMSS Analytics is a wholly owned not-for-profit subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).  The company collects and analyzes healthcare information related to IT processes and environments, products, IS department composition and costs, IS department management metrics, healthcare trends and purchase-related decisions.  HIMSS Analytics delivers high quality products, services and analytical expertise to healthcare delivery organizations, healthcare IT companies, state governments, financial companies, pharmaceutical companies, and consulting firms.  Visit www.himssanalytics.org for more information.

About ID Experts
ID Experts provides data breach solutions, risk assessment, forensic investigation and fully managed victim identity restoration to corporations, financial institutions, healthcare organizations and government agencies.  As a leader in data breach prevention and remediation, the company has managed hundreds of data breach events, protects millions of individuals from identity theft and authored the Identity Crime Victim's Bill of Rights. ID Experts is actively involved with industry organizations including ANSI/Identity Theft Prevention and Identity Management Standards Panel, International Association of Privacy Professionals, Internet Security Alliance, and the Santa Fe Group. For more information, visit http://www.idexpertscorp.com/.


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