Privacy Advisor

Privacy News

March 1, 2007

Survey Reveals Lack of Medical Identity Theft Awareness
Results of a survey sponsored by EpicTide, a provider of security solutions for the healthcare industry, yielded some interesting findings about consumer awareness of medical identity theft and patient safety concerns.

The survey questions were designed to elicit information from consumers about the rate of medical identity theft; understanding of their patient rights; and perceptions regarding the ability of healthcare organizations to protect patient records, ensure patient safety and report security breaches.

One of the key findings, according to the survey, is that nearly half of the survey participants had never heard of medical identity theft - despite the increase in medical ID theft and recent media coverage. Consumers also are mostly unaware of the consequences associated with medical identity theft, the survey found. Although respondents were somewhat able to identify examples of medical ID theft, the survey
concludes that additional consumer education is needed.

Another critical finding of the survey is that there is a great deal of confusion among participants as to their privacy rights. Although all doctors' offices, pharmacies and medical organizations require patients to sign a HIPAA notice, only 53 percent of survey respondents reported being asked to sign a notice of their HIPAA rights at a doctors' office, hospital, pharmacy or other medical organization. Additionally, half of the participants responded that they did not read the HIPAA notices that they have been asked to sign.

The survey goes on to reveal that the greatest misperception reported in regard to patient rights is that participants believed that "employees of healthcare organizations may legally access or view their records without written consent for reasons other than providing care or medical goods, or for billing/payment purposes."

The survey also asked participants a series of questions regarding the responsibility of healthcare organizations in reporting security breaches. While just more than 98 percent responded that healthcare providers should be accountable for informing patients if they suspect patient records have been accessed or compromised without authorization, 70.8 percent do not believe that healthcare providers are diligent about informing patients of suspected security breaches.

More information on accessing the survey is available at www.epictide.com.

Sidebars:

Consumer responses to a survey asking whether they believe their healthcare providers know when someone accesses their medical records

  • One in two consumers believe their healthcare provider does not know when someone accesses their medical records.
  • 39.9 percent of consumers feel confident that their healthcare providers are able to secure their medical records and personal information.
  • 50.1 percent feel their healthcare providers are effective in protecting their medical records.

Source: EpicTide

Consumer Beliefs Regarding the Consequences of Identity Theft

  • 92.7 percent of respondents associate receiving bills for medical care that they did not receive as a possible consequence of medical identity theft.
  • 83.5 percent of respondents associate increased cost of medical insurance as a possible consequence of medical identity theft.
  • 82 percent of respondents associate increased cost of overall medical care as a possible consequence of medical identity theft.
  • Only 75 percent of respondents associate altered medical records such as allergies or blood type or severe medical errors, complications or death as possible consequences of medical identity theft.
  • 70.8 percent of respondents agree that medical identity theft is a cause of rising healthcare costs.

Source: EpicTide


A Day in the Life of an Entrepreneur: Nymity's Terry McQuay
The Toronto Star recently caught up with Terry McQuay, CIPP, CIPP/C, founder of Nymity, a startup information technology company providing online risk management solutions related to privacy issues and regulatory compliance.

After being tapped by The Star as a finalist in its "2007 Build a Business Challenge," Nymity was approached by venture capital firm, Ventures West, which saw an opportunity in Nymity, especially given the growth of privacy legislation and a newly implemented Canadian law requiring companies to have a privacy officer. The Star profiled McQuay as he sat down with Robin Axon of Ventures West and explained the origin of Nymity and its growth. The article follows McQuay through a bevy of meetings on topics ranging from revamping Nymity's Web site, to analyzing its pricing strategy to identifying a spokesperson for the business.

The full article is available at www.nymity.com/about_us/TheStar.asp.


Cavoukian Calls for Privacy Legislation in Ontario
Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian again pushed for privacy legislation in the province in reaction to comments from Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips. Phillips has called upon the Canadian government to force banks and retailers to notify customers about privacy breaches, but Cavoukian is in favor of provincial legislation addressing breach notification and other privacy issues.

Ontario is the only one of Canada's four largest provinces that does not currently have private-sector privacy legislation. B.C., Alberta and Quebec currently have legislation in place.

In a news release issued by her office, Cavoukian stated, "Instead of pointing to Ottawa, Ontario should be taking responsibility for bringing in its own legislation (like the three provinces cited), that will address Ontario's privacy needs, including a key provision to require breach notification."


Americans Vote USPS #1 for Privacy
The United States Postal Service was rated the number one agency Americans trust to protect their privacy, according to the "2007 Privacy Trust Study of the United States Government" conducted by The Ponemon Institute LLC. This is the third year in a row that the USPS held the top spot, attaining a privacy trust score of 83 percent. Results also showed that the USPS increased customer satisfaction and trust scores from last year.

The study, which surveyed more than 7,000 people, identified 10 key factors - from a sense of security when providing personal information to Web site security to access to personal information - when ranking 60 federal agencies. The purpose of the study is to gauge Americans' confidence level in the government agencies that routinely collect and use citizens' personal information.

VeriChip Completes IPO
VeriChip, which develops, markets and sells radio frequency identification, or RFID, systems used to identify, locate and protect people and assets, recently announced the pricing of its initial public offering.

The company is offering 3,100,000 shares of its common stock at $6.50 per share, before underwriting discounts and commissions. VeriChip's common stock will be traded on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol "CHIP", according to a company news release.

Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. is the book-running manager for the offering and C.E. Unterberg, Towbin and Kaufman Bros., L.P. are co-managers.

In addition to the shares being offered by VeriChip, Applied Digital Solutions, Inc., the company's largest shareholder, has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 465,000 shares of the company's common stock to cover over-allotments, if any.

The offering of these securities is made only by means of a prospectus, copies of which may be obtained from Merriman Curhan Ford & Co., 600 California St., San Francisco, Calif., 94108 (telephone 415-248-5600 or fax: 415-248-5690).