Many Patients Don’t Believe in Their Healthcare Providers to Safely Keep PII and Payment Data

In 2019, the rate of more than 1 healthcare data breach report per day was scary. In 2021, some months had healthcare data breaches happening at a rate of over 2 per day. With data breaches happening so frequently and ransomware attacks affecting healthcare offerings, it is not surprising that a lot of patients don’t fully trust their healthcare companies when it comes to securing sensitive personally identifiable information (PII).

According to a new survey done by Dynata for Semafone, 56% of patients at private practices stated they don’t believe their healthcare providers could safeguard PII and payment data. Smaller healthcare companies have little budget to spend for cybersecurity compared to bigger healthcare organizations, yet belief in big hospital networks is considerably less. Just 33% of patients of big hospital systems believed in them to be capable of protecting their PII.

The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, the primary body that enforces HIPAA compliance, has increased the enforcement of HIPAA compliance in recent years and is more and more issuing financial fines for violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rule. The survey affirmed that patients would like healthcare companies to deal with financial penalties when they do not make sure the privacy of healthcare information. Of 10 patients, 9 approve penalizing healthcare companies that do not employ proper protections to avert healthcare data breaches.

Additionally, when data breaches happen, patients are happy to switch companies. 66% of patients mentioned they would switch to another healthcare provider in case their PII or payment data was exposed in a data breach that happened because of the inability to carry out proper security procedures. One more 2021 survey, carried out on behalf of Armis, got the same results. 49% of patients stated they will change healthcare providers in case their PHI was exposed to a ransomware attack.

The pandemic has heightened the risk patients deal with because of healthcare data breaches. Prior to the pandemic, a lot of patients settled their hospital bills personally or by mail, however, the Semafone survey revealed a decline in both payment methods, as a lot of patients are now opting to y electronically. In-person payments decreased by 28% and mail-in payments decreased by 17%. As financial data is more likely to be saved by healthcare companies, the risk of financial problems due to a data breach has gone up considerably.

Semafone showed in its 2021 State of Healthcare Payment Experience and Security Report that because of a lot more healthcare data breaches, patients have an increased sense of awareness and attention to what their providers do to safeguard their data. Semafone advises healthcare companies, and particularly big hospital networks, to give more focus on the digital transformation steps they do to secure sensitive data.

Irrespective of size, the whole healthcare sector should do better at managing and avoiding data breaches, stated Gary E. Barnett, Semafone’s CEO. The large number of healthcare data breaches is a problem. Thankfully, there are options that offer security and assistance to satisfy compliance requirements, however many organizations nowadays continue to depend on obsolete processes for day-to-day operations. It is not acceptable to assert they do not know that very efficient, effective, and automated solutions are available to help save time, money, and trouble. Healthcare companies need to seek the appropriate technologies and operations to safeguard the patient experience.

Although the majority of patients (75%) claimed they feel assured that their healthcare companies are doing well at sharing how payment data is protected, only 50% stated they are aware of where their payment information was kept. Considering the big number of people who do not know where their information is kept, providers have a chance to educate and communicate with patients more to, subsequently, enhance the experience and general confidence on the providers from here onwards.