Health IT boom fueling medical identity theft

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While increasing digitization of health information has been an important advance in the history of medicine, it has also led to a serious consequence — an increase in identity theft from medical records, according to a report from Fortune.

In the last five years, the number of data breaches in healthcare has quadruped, and 2013 marked the highest number of medical breaches ever, according to the report.

While traditional identity theft, use of a social security number or credit card information, is part of the aftermath of medical breaches, other types of information use are also common. Thieves can strip information of social security numbers and sell it to others, who may want to market to a given population, such as the elderly or women or a treatment group such as cancer patients.

Theft is made easier because of fragmentation of health information at a time when digitization is occurring more quickly than security can handle, according to the report.

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