The year 2020 has been quite eventful for the tech sector. However, the last year proved a grim one for the healthcare industry, due to a notable 55% increase in cyber attacks. A sizeable number of these attacks also lead to the breach of sensitive medical records.
One of the pre-existing reasons cited for this rise in breaches is the rapid digitalization of medical records. The situation was further complicated with hurried implementation of remote work and telemedicine solutions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to this spike in cyber attacks, it is estimated that the protected health information (PHI) of nearly 26 million people was impacted across USA. This is a mind boggling figure, given the sensitive nature of personal medical records.
The other alarming aspect of these heightened attacks on healthcare institutions is the financial quantum. It is estimated that the financial impact of cyber attacks on health providers is in excess of US $13 BN.
On a related note, the average cost of a single breached medical record is now touching a whopping US $499 apiece in USA. During the year 2020, the total number of reported data breaches in the US healthcare sector was 599.
Hacking and IT related incidents accounted for over 67% of the total data breaches last year. Until the year 2014, the major reasons for breach of medical health records were physical theft or data loss, but this trend has rapidly shifted over the past few years.
Now, cyber attacks on medical and healthcare records are the primary reason behind loss or misuse of hacked medical information. Some US states were hit harder by cyber attacks on medical records though.
Generally, the ratio of attacks was fairly proportional to the population in each state. The states of Wyoming, South Dakota, Vermont and Missouri did not confront any healthcare related data breach during last year, which is a re-assuring stat that we can do better.