The Long-Term Damage of a Healthcare Data Breach - Healthcare Resolution Services

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The Long-Term Damage of a Healthcare Data Breach

A data breach can be one of the most costly and damaging events for any healthcare agency. While its name usually conjures images of stolen files and network downtime, a single breach can have far more extensive, long-term effects. These include risks to patient health when charts are disabled, fines for HIPAA noncompliance, and a soured reputation with industry partners. Here’s why organizations should take the time now to implement stronger cybersecurity measures, and the financial benefit behind them.

Data Loss

If patient data is compromised and inaccessible, healthcare providers aren’t able to fully perform their services. This lack of care means lost revenue because patients are sent elsewhere while additional IT resources are needed to repair the network. When ransomware is involved, there’s also a decent chance that the organization will pay to get its data back, because that option seems preferable to having a network down for any extended period of time — over two weeks in the case of one California health system, according to Healthcare IT News. Even so, that organization will be fortunate if it receives most, if any, of its locked data back.

Fines for Noncompliance

The US Department of Health and Human Services takes compliance very seriously, and, per the Safe Harbor Bill, is required to take into account an organization’s level of cybersecurity when assessing fines for security incidents. The more time that organizations delay in implementing data protection, the more liability they create for themselves in the wake of a disaster. Consider that one health system agreed to a $2.3-million settlement after the personal information for over six million patients became compromised. As HealthITSecurity notes, this was due to “longstanding systemic noncompliance.”

Damaged Reputation

A healthcare organization’s reputation can become tarnished after a data breach if it comes to light that the proper cyber defenses weren’t in place beforehand. Customers, patients, and industry partners can easily lose confidence and decide to distance themselves if they no longer feel safe entrusting their records with that organization. Repairing that reputation can take far longer than the actual breach itself. 

What Your Team Can Do

If your team is looking for ways to encourage a strong culture of cybersecurity, consider these areas first: 1) implement better firewall and expanded password protection; 2) establish a secure data backup that can house duplicate copies for all of your critical files; and 3) develop cybersecurity plans comparable to CMMC types of compliance measures. Not only will these help you avoid the chances of a data breach and the subsequent impact to your finances, the Safe Harbor Bill also requires HHS to incentivize you for making these kinds of improvements.

We can assist your team in all of these areas and more. When you’re ready, give us a call to discuss.

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