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Doctors See Cybersecurity Risks as Key Issue for Hospitals

Physicians and administrators have different opinions on vulnerabilities

Cybersecurity and health care information technology (IT) are both burgeoning areas of business. Put them together and you have a volatile mix of security and privacy risks and regulatory requirements, according to an article posted on the Xome website.

It’s no surprise that doctors and hospital administrators are concerned with security, Gregory T. Huang writes. The U.S. health care industry is a top target of cyber attacks, and it has highly sensitive information about large segments of the population.

A new survey from MedData Group in Topsfield, Massachusetts, has shown that physicians have different opinions about cyber threats compared with those of administrators and health IT professionals, the article reports. The survey, conducted in June, polled 272 doctors and health care workers across the U.S.

A key finding was that physicians gave lower ratings to their organizations’ abilities to counter cyber crime than did hospital administrators and IT personnel. For example, 21% of doctors rated their facility’s cybersecurity systems as below average compared with 8% of administrators and IT workers.

Another difference of opinion is in where the greatest vulnerabilities lie. Administrators tended to cite e-mail and messaging systems as the major weaknesses, whereas doctors also listed electronic health records, mobile devices, and patient portals.

Everyone seemed to agree on where the threats are coming from. Across all health care staff surveyed, the top risks cited were malicious outsiders (68% of responses), compromised applications (e.g., malware and hacked mobile apps; 65%), and application or network failures (40%).

Administrators, IT professionals, and physicians also agreed on what will drive change. Eighty-three percent of respondents said the top driver for securing sensitive data in health care organizations is the need to comply with standards and regulatory requirements.

Source: Xome; July 1, 2015.

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