Mobile tech, employee error blamed for rise in medical data breaches

Twenty-seven percent of the 250 U.S. health care providers included in a recent survey said they experienced at least one security breach in the past year, with employee error being the primary cause.

The results of the "2012 HIMSS Analytics Report: Security of Patient Data," a biennial survey by Kroll Advisory Solutions, continued a trend in which health care data is increasingly being exposed. Past surveys found that 19 percent of respondents had experienced a breach in 2010, and 13 percent had in 2008.

The survey report said 79 percent of the breaches were the employee actions — the report concluded that human error is still the greatest threat to security — and that the mobility of patient data, resulting from new devices and technologies, was a major factor in patient data being exposed.

Twenty-two percent of respondents said breaches resulted from mobile devices — laptop PCs, handheld devices or portable hard drives — that were lost or stolen.

More than 50 percent of the breaches were identified as "unauthorized access to information," most often a patient's name and birthdate.


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