Consumers: Data security important factor in choosing healthcare providers

Consumers: Data security important factor in choosing healthcare providers

Many consumers are choosing hospitals based on their perceived privacy and security, as multiple healthcare systems were recently victims in highly-publicized data breaches.

According to a recent PricewaterhouseCooper Health Research Institute survey, 30 percent of respondents said privacy and security policies would impact which hospital they choose if cost, quality and access were equal.

Not all consumers are completely against healthcare systems sharing data, as 60 percent of consumers said they would be comfortable with data sharing among hospitals if it improved coordination of their care. With Americans concerned with information security and increasing risk of data breach, health organizations will focus more on improving privacy and security policies in 2012, the study said.

Several healthcare systems have experienced data breaches recently, as Sutter Medical Foundation and Lawrence Memorial Hospital reported breaches in the past month, and TRICARE is being sued $4.9 billion in a class action case.

Security experts say performing a risk assessment, having a data security plan and educating employees on the importance of securing patient information are three simple ways hospitals can reduce their risk of data breach. Additionally, all organizations should draft an incident response plan.