Not that long ago, healthcare worried mostly about the physical loss of personal health information (PHI) by way of a lost thumb drive, a stolen laptop, some misplaced paper files. These were the primary concerns in HIMSS initial security survey, published in 2008. It wasn’t until five years later, in 2013, that the largest healthcare security breaches came from cyberattacks instead of lost or stolen devices.
So, is it encouraging to see how far the rapid pace of change has carried health IT in just a few years? Well, yes and no. Growth is good, but it always presents a new set of challenges.
To be sure, healthcare has joined the rest of the wired world as a frequent target of technically skilled ne’er-do-wells. In 2014, cyber breaches in the form of systems hacking, credit card skimming and phishing (obtaining sensitive personal data by pretending to be someone trustworthy) totaled 29 percent of all security breaches. In 2015, that number rose to 38 percent.
Expect the trend to continue.
And expect it to get more complicated based on what’s happening in other industries. You may, for example, remember an interesting experiment last summer in which hackers demonstrated the susceptibility of a car’s onboard computer system by taking control of a Jeep going 70 miles per hour on a freeway outside St. Louis.