For years the medical industry has been moving, or being pushed by the government, in the direction of electronic health records for every patient. The idea was that this would make sharing patient information between hospitals easier, and let patients better review and manage their own health. However, in 2015 it caused another problem.
In 2015, more than 100 million patient records were stolen in healthcare data breaches. In fact, 8 of the 10 major healthcare hacks took place in 2015. The largest was the Anthem hack at the beginning of the year that exposed 78 million records. Then other major hospitals and health insurers, including Premera Blue Cross and UCLA Medical, exposed another 22 million. It isn't hard to see why either.
As we've said in the past, the healthcare industry isn't used to taking the same security precautions as banks and other financial institutions. That was OK when patient records were locked in filing cabinets, but now that records are digital it isn't going to fly.
Unfortunately, good security is expensive, and a lot of healthcare providers don't have the resources. Most only allocate 3% of their budget to it. That's why the healthcare data breaches are only going to keep continuing.
Hackers have also discovered that medical records fetch a premium on black market sites. With everyone watching their bank statements and credit, few people look at their medical insurance. That means medical insurance fraud takes longer to be caught, so identity thieves can score more money.
While you can't do much about healthcare security, start regularly checking your medical insurance to see if items are popping up that shouldn't be there. You should also know what information you shouldn't give your doctor at your next appointment.