December 2, 2011 – The second year of a benchmark survey to track progress in securing protected health information finds improved policies and staff training, but also increased frequency of breaches, rising incidents of identity theft, poor control over mobile devices, and two-thirds of organizations don't provide protection services for breach victims.

That mixed bag means protection isn't any better than a year ago, says Rick Kam, president of ID Experts, a Portland, Ore.-based data breach and remediation firm that sponsors the survey.

However, some improvements may just not be showing, notes, Larry Ponemon, founder of Traverse City, Mich.-based Ponemon Institute, a privacy and security research firm that conducts the survey. More electronic health records adoption and migration to mobile computing devices lead to increased security risks and breaches. But, based on interviews with about 300 officials at 72 provider organizations, mostly hospitals, the rate of breach reporting has improved, which could skew the actual increase in breaches, he speculates. "That is our gut feeling."

Survey results show that identity theft in health care is up 26 percent in a year, Kam says, and the overall financial cost of compromised sensitive health information can be higher than theft of financial data. "A health record with Social Security number and bank card number is the crown jewel of stolen information."

For more details on the survey findings, click here to view a slide show.

This story originally appeared on Health Data Management.

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