NORMAL — As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Illinois attorney general’s office investigate the Advocate Medical Group data breach, Advocate officials said Wednesday that they have received no information indicating the stolen data has been used against patients.

“We do not believe that the data was targeted,” said Kelly Jo Golson, a senior vice president of Advocate Health Care. “And we have no information that leads us to believe the data was misused.”

Advocate Medical Group consists primarily of physicians’ practices within the Advocate Health Care system.

Advocate notified federal regulators and the attorney general’s office “and we’ll be cooperating fully with them,” Golson said.

“Our office is investigating,” said Maura Possley of the attorney general’s office. “We began our investigation after Advocate notified us of the breach. At this point, we don’t have any more details on the investigation that we can share.”

Advocate began informing patients Friday that four computers were stolen in a burglary of an Advocate administrative building in Park Ridge. The computers contained information on 4.03 million Advocate Medical Group patients.

How many are from Central Illinois isn’t yet known, Golson said. “We don’t have the data sorted that way,” she explained.

The computers included patient names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, diagnoses, medical record numbers and health insurance information, Golson said.

“But no patient medical records were contained,” she said.

“At the time of the incident, we had policies and procedures in place regarding safeguarding of data,” she said. Since the incident, Advocate has improved “physical, technical and administrative” security and has completed a mapping of all its software so the health care system knows the location of all patient health and patient identification information.

Advocate on Friday established a call center at 877-218-1009 for patients with concerns, but Advocate is sending letters to people believed to be affected. The call center is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Golson said Advocate has increased call center staffing to handle the 2,000 or so daily calls.

Advocate also is offering affected patients one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection through Experian.

“We understand why our patients are anxious and concerned,” she said. “We deeply regret the inconvenience to our patients.”

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Mary Crenshaw
Mary Crenshaw

That data breach really is alarming. Scraping and culling data online could be a tough job. It is mostly done for reference and for proof purposes. We do hope that they identify the person who breach the data and issue a lawsuit on him/her.

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