Consumers are Less Concerned About Breaches of Health Data Than Financial Data

The healthcare marketing agency SCOUT recently conducted a survey that revealed consumers are less concerned with the privacy and security of their health data than the privacy and security of financial data such as debit and credit card numbers.  The latest report is part of the SCOUT Rare Insights series. The Harris Poll study was conducted between May 10 and May 14, 2018 on 2,033 adults.

The survey revealed 49% of consumers were very concerned with the privacy and security of health data, but 69% were very concerned with the privacy and security of their financial data. To a large extent, consumers are protected against credit card fraud. If credit card numbers are stolen, consumers are not typically liable for the losses but that is not the case with medical fraud which can have serious repercussions for patients that can not only have negative financial consequences, but also major consequences for the victim’s health.

When there is a breach of financial data, the fraudulent use of information is quickly detected and victims are often notified rapidly. However, with health data breaches, it can may take several months or years before victims become aware that they have been defrauded. In addition, patients have limited protection as there are few laws that limit liability and damages. Patients need to more concerned about their health data privacy and security due to the repercussions of a breach.

When asked about the types of medical information patients were most concerned about being mishandled and shared, the area of most concern was diagnosed medical conditions and diseases, rated as a concern by 31% of respondents.

The survey also revealed:

  • only 36% of patients use online patient portals to access their PHI
  • only 28% of under 35s use online portals
  • 39% of over 35s use online portals

By reviewing health information on a regular basis, patients can identify mistakes in their records and may be able to determine that their PHI has been misused. The faster fraud is detected, the easier it is to limit the harm caused. However, the survey revealed 47% of people who do not use patient portals fail to do so because they prefer to discuss health concerns personally with their providers.