Data Breaches in Health Care Continue to Rise > Hospital Association of Pennsylvania


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Data Breaches in Health Care Continue to Rise

August 06, 2019

A new report shows that 32 million patient records were breached during the first half of 2019 which is double the total of all breaches during 2018.

The most significant breach of 2019 so far was the hacking of American Medical Collection Agency, which exposed nearly 20 million patients. While many factors lead to breaches, hacking continues to be the primary cause (59%), while other causes include:

  • Error or wrongdoing (21%)
  • Loss or theft (9%)
  • Unknown (11%)

Hacking methods vary but the most utilized is ransomware, which often encrypts an organization’s system and demands payment (typically in bitcoin) for the release of the data. While California, Texas, and Florida have some of the highest incidents of ransomware attacks with some counties paying over $130,000 to hackers in an effort to retrieve important files.

It is important for 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 combating ransomware attacks. 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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