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A growing majority of healthcare executives are choosing better, more effective cybersecurity for a number of reasons. The first of these is undoubtedly the increasing prevalence of cybercrimes being perpetrated upon healthcare facilities – from small clinics and doctor’s offices up to major hospitals. Major fines dealt out by the DHS and HIPAA normally follow any significant data breach that involves the Protected Health Information (PHI) of patients, which is another big reason that healthcare administrators are rushing to step-up their cybersecurity protocols.

Here are some quick statistics from the 2016 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey, the results of which were released in August:

  • 85 percent of the 150 surveyed IT security leaders are increasing cybersecurity awareness, motivated by potential phishing attacks – 80 percent acute care providers, 65 percent non-acute;
  • Viruses or malware – 68 percent acute, 65 percent non-acute; and
  • Risk-assessment results – 64 percent acute, 77 percent non-acute.
  • Roughly 71 percent of non-acute care and 50 percent of acute care respondents pointed to a lack of financial resources, while about 60 percent of respondents pointed to a lack of cybersecurity personnel when asked why they don’t have more cybersecurity measures in place.
  • 75 percent of respondents reported medical identity theft as the motivation for their incidents of data breach or cyberattack
  • Vulnerabilities included email, mobile devices and Internet of Things-oriented devices.

Most anyone who is doing business on IT networks is aware of the dangers posed by having inadequate cybersecurity in place. According to Rod Piechowski, HIMSS’ senior director of health information systems, “Cybersecurity attacks have the potential to yield disastrous results for healthcare providers and society as a whole. It’s imperative healthcare providers acknowledge the need to address cybersecurity concerns and act accordingly.”

In their Privacy & Security section, Healthcare IT News reports that healthcare providers need to spend more on cybersecurity readiness as, “With the stakes of data breach so high, bigger investments in people and technology are essential.” And it shows in many areas of IT. Case in point: Chief Information and Security Officer, or CISO salaries are skyrocketing, with upwards of $400,000 and more annual salaries being reported. Those healthcare department heads who would balk at such “excessive” payouts for having IT security specialists on board should remember that one group alone was slapped with a $6.8 million dollar HIPAA fine in 2014. Many millions of dollars in HIPAA settlements and fines have been handed out by OCR in the almost three years since then.

What’s Cybersecurity Worth to You?

So, it’s clear that not stepping-up your cybersecurity measures has the clear potential of being far costlier than getting a vCIO and/or managed IT services team on the job, securing your PHI and keeping you safe from compliance violations and disastrous fine levies. It might be a good idea to attend the HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) Cybersecurity Hub at Cleveland’s Innovation Center on October 25. This will be an in-person educational resources expo that will contain important information on cybersecurity, especially geared toward healthcare leaders.

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