Security Experts:

Ponemon: 94% of Hospitals Suffered Data Breaches

According to a recent study sponsored by ID Experts on patient and data security, 94% of healthcare organizations surveyed said they have suffered at least one data breach. This figure, the report says, demonstrates that uphill battle that the healthcare industry faces when it comes to information security. Further, the study says that such security problems cost healthcare organizations an estimated $7 billion annually.

Patient Data SecurityIn addition to the 94% that reported at least one breach, an additional 45% of those surveyed by Ponemon Institute for the study reported more than five breaches over the last two years. According to the research, 54 percent of organizations have little or no confidence that they can detect all patient data loss or theft.

According to the participants, the causes for the data breaches were loss of equipment (46 percent), employee errors (42 percent), third-party snafu (42 percent), criminal attack (33 percent), and technology glitches (31 percent).

Moreover, 52% said that there were cases of medical identity theft as a result of the breaches. When it comes to that segment, 39% say it resulted in inaccuracies in the patient's medical record and 26 percent say it affected the patient's medical treatment.

Based on the comments from the 80 healthcare organizations participating in the study, the resulting cost to the U.S. healthcare industry could be $6.87 billion, up from 2011. The average impact of a data breach is $1.2 million per organization. Overall, the research indicates that patients and their PHI are at increased risk for medical identity theft. Risks to patient privacy are expected to increase, as mobile and cloud technology become pervasive.

"Healthcare organizations face many challenges in their efforts to reduce data breaches," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute.

"This is due in part to the recent explosion of employee-owned mobile devices in the workplace and the use of cloud computing services. In fact, many organizations admit they are not confident they can make certain these devices are secure and that patient data in the cloud is properly protected. Overall, most organizations surveyed say they have insufficient resources to prevent and detect data breaches."

A general overview of the report’s data can be seen in the infographic below.

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Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.