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Healthcare Organizations Must Do More to Protect Patient Data from Breaches

Healthcare data breaches are on the rise. In March 2023, there were 63 healthcare data breaches each impacting more than 500 patients reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR). For comparison, February 2023 had 43 and January had 40, reports HIPAA Journal. 

This is a 46 percent increase from February, nearly seven percent more than the 12-month average, and 40 percent more breaches than in March 2022.  

The total number of records breached topped 6.3 million, which is 36 percent more records breached than the 12-month average and 76 percent more breached records than in March 2022. 

Healthcare data breaches

What is Causing This Spike? 

The most common cause of healthcare data breaches in March was unauthorized access and disclosure, which accounted for 22 percent of the breaches and 45 percent of the breached records.

Other common causes of data breaches included hacking (19 percent), theft (nearly five percent), and improper disposal (three percent). In March of 2023, hacking and IT incidents caused 47 healthcare data breaches. 

In the largest healthcare data breach last March involving a mental healthcare provider, multiple employee email accounts were compromised. The breach exposed the protected health information (PHI) of nearly 194,000 people. 

Data Privacy and Protection are Critical 

Healthcare, compared to other industries, is a highly digitized industry and therefore an ideal target risk for bad actors. For example, stealing someone’s medical information means being able to possibly commit identity theft, purchase prescriptions, send Medicare claims on someone’s behalf, and so on. Healthcare’s attack surface only continues to expand.  

Therefore, healthcare organizations must do everything in their power to mitigate future risks. Organizations urgently need to take action to ensure patient data remains protected and in the right hands. Ongoing data breaches only highlight the need for healthcare organizations to take steps to protect the privacy and security of patient data.  

What’s next? Having the right tools at the right time is critical. Organizations should implement strong security measures and encryption to protect their networks and data.  

They should also train employees in data security best practices and make sure they have smart procedures in place to respond to data breaches. 

How SAI360 Can Help 

SAI360 includes pre-configured software that helps healthcare organizations manage their compliance with a variety of regulations, including HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). SAI360’s module can help organizations protect patient data from breaches.  

This is achieved through things including: 

  • Data classification: Classify data based on sensitivity, which helps prioritize security efforts 
  • Access control: Control who has access to data, and to what extent 
  • Auditing: Track access to data to identify and investigate potential breaches 
  • Encryption: Encrypt data both at rest and in transit to protect it from unauthorized access 
  • Security awareness training: Provide employees with training on data security best practices, which helps to reduce human errors 

SAI360 can help organizations protect patient data from breaches by providing a comprehensive set of security features. By using the module, organizations can reduce the risk of a breach and protect the privacy of their patients. And they can take steps to protect patient data from breaches and avoid the financial and reputational damage that can result from a breach. 

Final Thoughts 

Healthcare data breaches are continuing in velocity and volume.  They continue to have significant impact on patients, healthcare organizations, and the healthcare industry as a whole. 

But there are key steps healthcare organizations can take today to protect patient data from breaches tomorrow, including implementing strong security measures, training employees in data security best practices, having procedures in place to respond to data breaches, and using a comprehensive compliance software module.  

This way, healthcare organizations can help protect patient data from breaches and avoid resulting negative consequences through smart preparation leveraging the right digital tools at the right time. 

For more information on how SAI360’s modular SaaS solutions can drive efficiency, efficacy, and agility in your workplace, visit https://www.sai360.com/industries/healthcare-health-insurance. 

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