Both patients and information technology systems should play a role in detecting and reducing medical identity theft, but the federal government has a part to play as well, researching and organizing a national response to the problem, authors of a government-funded study have concluded.
National security and defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton released the report last week, the third phase in a $450,000 study funded by the Office of the National Coordinator at HHS to improve its understanding of the issue and the role health information technology may play.
The final phase is the 26-page Booz Allen report. It contains recommendations for a national policy on medical identity theft, which the report defines as the misuse, with or without their knowledge, of one persons personal information, such as the name, date of birth, Social Security number and insurance policy number to obtain or bill for medical goods or services.
Thus, the dangers of medical identity theft extend beyond the financial risks and privacy exposure of individuals, or the risk of fraud to payers or providers, to include potentially serious medical risks to individuals whose identity has been stolen and whose paper or electronic health records contain inaccurate medical information.
Government should take the lead to ensure that medical identity theft is taken into consideration as part of the broader interoperability, governance and privacy and security initiatives associated with the interchange and protection of personal health data, the reports authors said. -- by Joseph Conn