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To Combat Medical Identity Theft, Patients Need More Control
February 27, 2015
By Dr. Bettina Experton, MD, MPH

According to the Ponemon Institute, medical identity theft incidents rose by more than 20 percent in 2014. The study found that resolving medical identity theft costs an average of $13,500, making it more costly than resolving financial theft. In this environment, it is time to get serious about giving patients greater control over their health information.

Among the recommendations in the report, which was commissioned by the Medicare Identity Fraud Alliance, is to give consumers better control over their medical records. The best way to do that is to allow them to aggregate, annotate and manage all of their records on their own personal mobile devices.

With today’s sophisticated mobile devices, there is no need to worry about storage, or computing power – so why not choose individual devices as the prime location for assembling longitudinal records, rather than the cloud, where the data is at high risk of being hacked. This does not prohibit patients from sharing the data they choose for population health applications in the cloud.

By actively managing their health record on their device, patients get an on-going view of the data they retrieve from their various health care providers or insurers, which helps them monitor their personal health information and react to any potential tampering with their medical identity. And, as an added benefit, they can take a much more active role in planning and managing their own care, as they become the hub for sharing their medical history, anywhere and any time on their secured mobile devices. Using high-level encryption for the local storage of personal information, their data can be both accessible and safe.

The Health IT industry and policy makers have discussed the need for greater patient control for a long time, and regulations are now in place that can leverage the ubiquity of mobile devices to bring about this shift. Now, we must take concrete steps – quickly – to make it happen.

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