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Data Breaches Could Cost Providers $305B in Lost Patient Revenue

October 14, 2015
by Heather Landi
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Healthcare providers could potentially lose $305 billion in patient revenue over the next five years due to the impact of cybersecurity attacks, according to a new report from Accenture.

In 2014, nearly 1.6 million people had their medical information stolen from healthcare providers, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

The Accenture report used this historical security breach data to project the number of patients impacted by healthcare provider data breaches from 2015 to 2019. And, based on medical identity theft information by the Ponemon Institute, the company calculated the impacted patients that would become victims of medical identity theft and quantified the patient revenue that would be put at risk.

Accenture predicts that 25 million people—or approximately one in 13 patients—will have their medical and/or personal information stolen from their healthcare provider’s digitized records between 2015 and 2019.

According to a Ponemon Institute survey, almost half of patients said they would find a different provider if they were informed that their medical records were stolen, the record cites.

"Taking into account the estimated lifetime economic value of a patient, Accenture analysis shows that healthcare providers are at risk of losing $305 billion in cumulative lifetime patient revenue over the next five years due to patients switching providers because of medical identity theft," the report states.

"Applying this methodology to recent healthcare provider data breaches, Accenture estimates that each provider organization lost an average of $113 million of lifetime patient revenue for every data breach it suffered in 2014."

The report also highlights the personal financial loss to patients in the event of medical identity theft. Sixty-five percent of victims of medical identity theft pay out-of-pocket (OOP) costs at an average of $13,500 per victim, the report states, citing the Ponemon Institute survey.

Accenture projects that 25 percent of patients impacted by healthcare provider data breaches from 2015 to 2019—more than 6 million people—will become victims of medical identity theft. And, 16 percent of impacted patients—more than 4 million people—will be victimized and pay out-of-pocket costs totaling almost $56 billion over the next five years.

The report also emphasizes the need for healthcare organizations to employ active defense strategies based on a risk-based approach to cyber security management. This kind of approach uses analytics to detect events and threats, as well as enabling a swifter response to incidents. And, this shift to a risk-based approach must be a priority for C-level healthcare executives, the authors of the report state.

The Accenture report also outlines five actions healthcare provides can take to develop effective cyber security  measures—assessing security capability and identify opportunities; manage complexity and integrate the enterprise; become agile; accelerate toward security intelligence and develop end-to-end delivery and sourcing.

The authors conclude that healthcare providers that successfully make this shift will limit the damage of cyber attacks as active defensive measures can safeguard future patient revenue and safeguard consumers’ medical and financial information.



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