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Patient Concerns Grow Over Data Protection

August 29, 2019

New data reveals varying levels of distress among patients about their private data. The new survey takes a deep dive into the perception many patients have about various health systems and technology platforms with regard to security.

Respondents were questioned on the level of trust they have to their insurance company, physician’s office, and even their health plan in regards to the safety of their personal data. Participant responses reveal:

  • 17 percent feel that their data is safe and secure with their health plan
  • 24 percent say they had trust in their hospital to protect their data
  • 34 percent have trust in their physician’s office to protect their data

When patients were asked about their levels of trust regarding their data with their insurance companies, 22 percent stated they had “not very much” trust, and 17 percent said they did not trust them at all. The level of trust of those surveyed took a sharp decline when asked about online search engines and social media. Only 7 percent and 3 percent respectively have a “great deal” of trust.

So far during 2019, there have been 31.6 million records affected by security breaches, which is more than double the amount during 2018 (14.2 million patient records). These breaches not only result in the loss of patient data and trust but also a great amount of money for health care organizations. Data breaches can have up to a three-year financial effect according to IBM Security’s 2019 data breach cost report, resulting in 67 percent of the cost occurring in the first year, 22 percent in the second, and nearly 11 percent in the third year.

Keeping patient’s data safe and secure requires hospitals and health systems to be proactive with regards to cybersecurity. Several organizations worked with the Department of Homeland Security to develop best practices to assist health care providers with preventing and combating data breaches. Hospitals should regularly assess their cybersecurity readiness, engage with employees about policies and protocol, and include cybersecurity scenarios in their crisis communications plans.

HAP’s emergency preparedness team is available to assist member hospitals and health systems with cybersecurity incidents. Armed with knowledge about the latest trends in malware and compliance, staff are able to help hospitals:

  • Assess individual situations and work toward limiting potential risks
  • Maintain protocols, do necessary patches, and share best practices
  • Comply with industry and national reporting requirements at both the state and federal levels in the event of a breach

For more information about HAP’s emergency preparedness efforts, please contact Mark Ross, HAP’s vice president, emergency preparedness. For more information about crisis communications planning, contact Rachel Moore, HAP’s director, media relations.

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