Health Care Breaches Common, but Budgets Stay Mostly Flat: Survey
While the theft of medical information from health care organizations has become commonplace and prompted some companies and hospitals to strengthen information-security practices, the industry overall remains behind in protecting patient data and budgets remain flat, according to a survey co-authored by the Ponemon Institute and ID Experts.
Based on multiple interviews with 91 health insurers and hospitals and 84 business associates, the survey found that 89 percent of health care organizations had a data breach in the past two years, with nearly half having more than five data breaches. While most of the breaches were small, encompassing less than 500 records, the average cost of a breach was $2.2 million over two years for health care providers and insurers and more than $1 million for business associates, according to the survey.
Despite the impact of the attacks, organizations are moving slowly to improve their security, Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute, told eWEEK.
"There is a lack of funding, people, resources and expertise to manage data breaches," he said. "You would think that would have changed over time, but the problems persist."
Almost 90 percent of hospitals and insurers have had a breach in the past two years, but budgets have risen for less than a third of health care organizations.
The survey comes as health facilities and insurers suffer from significant compromises. In February, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, for example, paid criminals $17,000, after ransomware encrypted some of the hospital's critical systems. The year before, another compromise, this time of health insurer Anthem, resulted in more than 80 million patient records stolen by attackers.