A recently released survey shows U.S. physicians have increasing cybersecurity concerns, as 83 percent of physicians surveyed have already reported experiencing some kind of cyberattack.
The survey, conducted by Accenture and the American Medical Association (AMA), reveals a number of cybersecurity issues facing the medical field. The cyberattacks encountered by the surveyed physicians include phishing and viruses. While we don’t know the full ramifications of these attacks, it’s enough of a concern that more than half of the physicians surveyed claim to be “very worried” about future attacks.
These cyberattacks have led to numerous issues, including patient safety risks, increased downtime, and disruption to service at clinical practices. According to the survey, 29 percent of physicians in “medium-sized practices” claim it’s taken a full day to recover from an attack.
“The important role of information sharing within clinical care makes health care a uniquely attractive target for cyber criminals through computer viruses and phishing scams that, if successful, can threaten care delivery and patient safety,” AMA President David O. Barbe said in a press release. “New research shows that most physicians think that securely exchanging electronic data is important to improve health care. More support from the government, technology and medical sectors would help physicians with a proactive cybersecurity defense to better ensure the availability, confidentially and integrity of health care data.”
The physicians surveyed claim that some hackers target their practices with ransomware, allowing the attackers to block access to information until a payment is made. Other hackers simply want to steal personal information, and medical data is about as personal as it gets. Such data can also be used in health care fraud, and there are growing concerns about attackers being able to hack connected medical devices, as well.
Sharing And Protecting Data
Medscape points out that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating 388 data breaches that have occurred within the past two years. These breaches have affected up to 3.6 million people in the case of Banner Health, or as few as 500 people in a number of smaller practices — it appears that no target is too small.
Nevertheless, most physicians see the importance in being able to share electronic protected health information, and two out of three physicians believe increased access to patient data would improve care. The information is there, and it’s beneficial to both patients and doctors — the sectors mentioned by Barbe must work together, and commit the necessary time and money to ensure the information is truly secure.