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Privacy and Security Rule in 2012

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Data breaches and patient privacy rights were some of the most popular health-care IT topics in 2011, and that’s unlikely to change in 2012. Below we review some related topics to help ensure that you stay clear of potential hurdles in the coming year.

Medical identity theft resulting from data breaches are causing patients much distress, emotionally and financially—and this often results in patients switching providers.

That can hurt health care providers financially, since the average lifetime value of one patient is more than $113,000, according to a study by Ponemon.

Additionally, security and privacy breaches can lead to class-action lawsuits, which will increase in 2012, according to Kirk Nahra, a partner at the law firm Wiley Rein LLP. This was certainly the case in 2011, and shouldn’t change in 2012. The result will inevitably be increased costs for affected health care providers.

That will likely lead to two major changes in the industry. First, security and privacy training will become paramount. Although many health care providers already have related procedures in place, in many cases their staff members ignore them. Since most breaches are caused by human error, training will likely become more common.

Additionally, health care providers will likely utilize cyber liability insurance. Cyber Data Risk Managers has said this will be particularly true as health care providers continue to implement their electronic medical records (EMRs), as breaches can be both costly and damaging to the organization’s reputation, as noted above.