ONC’s Coordinator, Dr. Robert Kolodner, has noted that medical identity theft stories are being documented at an increasing rate, bringing to light serious financial, fraud, and patient care issues, and that it is imperative to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of this issue from a variety of perspectives.  The government explains on its HIT Privacy & Security webpage that:

 "Medical identity theft is a specific type of identity theft which occurs when a person uses someone else’s personal health identifiable information, such as insurance information, Social Security Number, health care file, or medical records, without the individual’s knowledge or consent to obtain medical goods or services, or to submit false claims for medical services . . . [and that] there is limited information available about the scope, depth, and breadth of medical identity theft."

Last month, ONC awarded a contract to Booz Allen Hamilton to assess and evaluate the scope of the medical identity theft problem in the U.S.  The HIT webpage lays out the 3 phases of this assessment and evaluation, which can be summarized as follows:

  • Phase 1 – an "Environmental Scan" of the medical identity theft problem in the U.S will be completed, particularly focusing on the intersection with health information technology;
  • Phase 2 – A one-day Town Hall meeting will be held to enable health care experts to share knowledge and experience of medical identity theft and how health IT can be utilized to prevent and detect medical identity theft; and
  • Phase 3A final report and road map will be released in Winter 2008-2009 that will set forth possible next steps for the federal government and other stakeholders in order to work toward prevention, detection, and remediation of medical identify theft.

To read an article that I co-authored on Medical Identity Theft, see HFMA’s NJ FOCUS Magazine March/April 2008 edition.   Also, Health Data Management has an interesting and useful white paper on "Securing Critical Healthcare Data from Internal Theft and Loss" that is worth checking out.