Governance & Risk Management , HIPAA/HITECH , Insider Threat

Price Is Right: When Insiders Are Willing to Violate HIPAA

A Professor Reviews Results of a Study of Those Considering Healthcare Careers
Price Is Right: When Insiders Are Willing to Violate HIPAA
Chul Woo Yoo, professor at Florida Atlantic University

If they were offered a substantial monetary payment or they faced certain challenging circumstances, some of those planning to enter the healthcare field admit they'd be willing to unlawfully obtain and disclose patient information, says Chul Woo Yoo, co-author of a recent study by three universities.

"The research showed that many of the subjects believed there was a high probability of getting caught, but nevertheless, many of [the respondents] could be incentivized to violate the HIPAA laws," says Yoo, a professor at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. The university conducted the study with the State University of New York at Buffalo and Baylor University in Houston, Texas.

For instance, 10% of the respondents said they would be willing to break the HIPAA rules if offered more than $10,000, he says. "There's a tendency that the more money they are offered, the more they are willing to break the regulations."

Personal circumstances also can influence a willingness to violate HIPAA, the survey also found. "Urgent money needs related to family and friends encourages respondents to break the regulations," Yoo says.

The researchers surveyed medical residents and individuals in an executive MBA program as well as students in an undergraduate information technology course.

In the interview (see audio link below photo), Yoo also discusses:

  • How the study was conducted and its objective;
  • Other key findings of factors that can influence some upcoming healthcare workers - including nurses and doctors - to unlawfully access and disclose patient information;
  • Steps healthcare entities can take to reduce the risk of insider breaches of patient records.

Yoo is associate professor in the information technology and operations management department within Florida Atlantic University's college of business. His areas of expertise include information security, business analytics in social media and consumer behavior in electronic commerce. He was previously a professor at the University of Buffalo.

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