Robert Anderson via HFMA
Technology has radically transformed healthcare, allowing physicians to conduct examinations by mobile phone, hospitals to share patient records electronically, medical devices to be monitored using wireless connectivity, and autonomous robots to perform surgeries.
But healthcare’s growing use of IT also has exposed hospitals, clinics, and physicians to a rising number of cybersecurity threats. Healthcare providers are increasingly targeted by hackers because they not only possess valuable patient information, but also tend to lack sufficient safeguards against cyber attacks.
More than one in four of all data breaches occur in the healthcare industry, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, a not-for-profit that tracks cyber attacks. Of the record 1,339 data breaches in 2017, 374 occurred in healthcare.
The healthcare industry is among the most challenging when it comes to cybersecurity strategy because employees across an organization from clinical to administrative functions have access to sensitive patient data and because there exist multiple points of entry, presenting ample opportunity for hackers. A cyber criminal might launch an attack on a hospital system’s mainframe computer but may find it easier to gain entry through the desktop PC in a small health clinic. It might be even simpler to steal a nurse’s laptop or a physician’s mobile phone.
There are several ways for healthcare providers to improve their cybersecurity, and some of these measures cost little or no money.