Industry association seeks answers to medical ID theft

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Idology, a software vendor enabling providers and insurers to validate the identity of a person not physically present, recently joined the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, bringing the number of stakeholder and association members to 43 a little more than two years after formation.

John Dancu, CEO at Idology, says he recently became aware of MIFA and wants the company to be part of the collaborative association.

“When you share best practices and fraud trends, it makes the customer stronger,” Dancu notes. Further, making sure a customer is legitimate brings a positive experience to the customer and the healthcare organization, he adds. Idology’s healthcare business has grown quickly in the past three years as the industry awakens to the need for better tools to combat medical identity theft, he says.

When you share best practices and fraud trends, it makes the customer stronger.

Collaboration is the focus of MIFA, says Ann Patterson, senior vice president. “Collaboration and information sharing will be key to moving the industry forward. We need to work together as an industry if we are ever to get ahead of the bad guys. They are good at what they do and we need to get just as good.”

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Currently, there remains a general lack of awareness among consumers, providers and policymakers on the threat of medical identity theft, Patterson believes. MIFA does not yet have a lobbying staff but could in the future, she says. But while the association does not push for or against certain policy proposals, it does educate lawmakers and regulators and also has relationships with law enforcement agencies.

MIFA has 28 dues-paying members that include providers, insurers, and vendors, and has 15 “strategic partners” that include public entities, associations and universities. The association, Patterson says, has spent time getting organized, building membership and evaluating the healthcare fraud environment.

Now, MIFA is moving forward on studying various aspects of medical identity fraud with its first workgroup focusing on pain-points of identity theft; looking at weaknesses in such areas as cloud computing, regulation, mobile computing, the emergency department and business associates. This will inform development of guidelines on such issues as where patient ID exists in healthcare, how it travels and where the opportunities are for fraud.

Guidelines will be kept close to the vest “so the bad guys can’t reverse engineer,” Patterson says. They will be distributed to member organizations and to other appropriate organizations on a case-by-case basis, such as policymakers, associations and law enforcement.

Medical ID theft is a growing problem that needs greater attention in the industry so before it becomes an unmanageable problem, Patterson contends. “We so have some obstacles out there, but we also have a lot of people who get it.”

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