Monday, November 30, 2009

Growth of EHRs Could Lead to Rise in Medical Identity Theft

Although some people have touted electronic health records as a strategy to improve health care efficiency, others are expressing concern that EHRs could make patients more vulnerable to medical identity theft, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Experts say EHR systems might actually facilitate identity theft because the tools make patient medical information more easily accessible.

Hackers who steal patient data might file false medical bills to obtain money from insurance companies, Medicare and other payers. As a result, individuals who experience identity theft might face mounting medical bills and could exhaust their lifetime coverage benefits. In addition, insurance companies might label such individuals as uninsurable because of their perceived high medical costs.

Medical identity theft also could alter crucial information contained in a patient's EHR, such as allergies, blood type and medical history. Such data manipulation could have serious consequences if physicians use the faulty information when treating the patient. ihealthbeat

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