ONCHIT hires tech firm to tackle medical identity theft problem

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has awarded approximately $450,000 to Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy and consulting technology firm, to assess and evaluate the scope of the medical identity theft problem in the United States.

The purpose of the project is to consider the intersection of health IT and medical identity theft, including examining how health IT can be used to detect and prevent medical identity theft, according to ONCHIT.

“The prevention and detection of medical identify theft along with actions to address problems that may occur as a result of medical identity theft, are necessary steps to build consumer trust in electronic health information exchange. In order to build that trust, all aspects of the problem must be understood including how health IT provide opportunities for prevention, detection, and remediation,” said HHS National Coordinator for Health IT Robert M. Kolodner, MD.

The first phase of the project includes the development of an environmental scan to assess the scope of the problem and to serve as the baseline for developing prevention, detection and remediation strategies.

Also, ONCHIT announced that a one-day town hall meeting will be held in October in Washington, D.C., during the second phase of the project, and will be open to the public.

The town hall will bring together public and private healthcare stakeholders to share knowledge and experience with experts from other economic sectors that deal with medical identity theft, exploring how medical identity theft should be considered and addressed in a health IT environment.

The third phase of the project will result in a final report and roadmap, summarizing key issues and possible next steps. ONCHIT noted that a limited number of studies are available about the scope, depth and breadth of medical identity theft.