Data breach concern increasing among healthcare organizations

Data breach concern increasing among healthcare organizations

Data breaches have become more frequent throughout several industries, causing significant financial and reputation loss, and health organizations are no exception.

According to a recent Ponemon Institute report, data breaches at healthcare providers have increased 32 percent in the past 12 months, and health professionals believe employee mistakes are responsible for the majority of incidents.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they have little or no confidence in their organization's ability to detect breaches, and 41 percent said losing confidential patient information is usually the result of employee mistakes, the report said. With incidents becoming more frequent, the study estimated that data breaches cost the healthcare industry an average of $6.5 billion annually.

"Healthcare data beaches are an epidemic," said Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. "These problems are a direct result of our national economy. Healthcare organizations - especially not-for-profit hospitals and small clinics - have thin margins, are trimming staff and resources and are lacking sufficient security and privacy budgets needed to adequately protect patients. I don't see this getting better anytime soon."

Experts advise health organizations to better educate their employees regarding best practices in data protection, and to meet security standards established by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.