Why are Data Breaches So Dangerous in Healthcare?

It doesn’t take much more than a couple of minutes spent checking the news to hear about another data breach. It seems no one is immune, but if you’ve thought it seemed like the healthcare industry was getting hit especially hard, you’re not imagining it. Cyber criminals have become quite fond of the healthcare sector as a target for data breaches, and that can have devastating outcomes. But why are these data breaches so dangerous for the healthcare industry? Read on to find out.

What is a data breach?

A data breach occurs when protected data – confidential, sensitive, or otherwise – is obtained by an unauthorized party. This can happen in a variety of ways, including occasionally by accident, but the most common is through a cyber attack such as phishing or malware.

How common are data breaches in healthcare?

Between 2009 and 2021, there were 4,149 reported healthcare data breaches of 500 records or more. Of that, 714 breaches were in 2021 alone. From January to June 2022, there have been 347 breaches, indicating an increasing trend.

The healthcare industry is among the most popular targets for hackers, which is why these figures are so high. And as staggering as these numbers are, they’re even more shocking when you consider that between 60 and 80% of breaches are never reported.

It’s easy to wonder why healthcare is such a common target for cyber criminals. This has to do with the value of data. Personal health information (PHI) is much more valuable than personally identifiable information (PII). This allows attackers to see a bigger payday by targeting healthcare organizations than those in another sector.

Why are data breaches so dangerous in healthcare?

Data breaches in the healthcare industry can be devastating for both practices and their patients. Financially, the full price tag of a healthcare data breach for an organization is $6.5 million on average. Typically, this breaks down to a cost of $211 per compromised patient record, before potential fines. Patients can also face financial difficulties due to data breaches, as they may become victims of identity theft and incur the associated costs.

Additionally, patient safety and care delivery are put at risk as a result of data breaches. Some patients lose trust in their provider following a data breach, leading them to delay seeking care and opening them up to negative health outcomes. Certain cyber attacks, such as ransomware, can lock up a practice’s ability to provide patient care as they are unable to access any of their data. Some cyber criminals not only steal patient data, but also alter it in a way that affects health outcomes. Data breaches in the healthcare industry can truly become life or death situations.

Data breaches are among the biggest threats to the healthcare industry right now. The occurrence of data breaches continues to increase year over year, and the impact on practices and their patients can be devastating. Practices must employ a solid healthcare cybersecurity program in order to avoid the stress of these attacks.

With this in mind, it’s important for practices to take proactive steps to protect themselves from cyber attacks. That’s why Henry Schein SolutionsHub offers Black Talon Security. Black Talon employs a customer-focused approach that enables them to provide industry leading data breach prevention solutions. For more information on how SolutionsHub and Black Talon can help protect your practice, talk to one of our Solutions Consultants.