Healthcare providers ‘cannot be complacent over data security’

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Consumers have placed a high level of trust in healthcare organizations to keep their digital data safe, but companies cannot afford to take such good relationships for granted.

That is the main finding of a new report from Accenture, which found that 84% of consumers trust their physician or healthcare provider to keep data secure, with a further 30% expressing a “great deal” of trust.

A similarly high percentage (80%) trust the labs processing medical tests to keep information secure, along with hospitals (79%) and pharmacies (77%)

However, another 13% have experienced a breach of their healthcare data, with over half (56%) becoming the victims of medical identity theft.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that 94% took action to protect their data, whether through changing passwords (22%), signing up to an identity protection service (22%), or by installing security software to their own computers (19%).

A further 13% went as far as actually switching their healthcare provider, while others sought legal advice (27%) or went to the police (18%).

As a result, Accenture says firms cannot afford to be complacent, stating: “Now is the time for healthcare providers, health plans and other organizations to strengthen cybersecurity capabilities, improve their defences, build resilience and better manage breaches.”

The evidence already suggests that a breach can prove costly. While 68% of customers said their provider had handled a breach correctly, some 35% said they had nevertheless lost trust in their ability to secure data.

The issue is by no means restricted to health care providers in England, with another Accenture report earlier in the year finding that 26% of Americans had also suffered a breach in their healthcare data, a figure that also came against a backdrop of high levels of trust among consumers (88%).

Reza Chapman, managing director of cybersecurity in Accenture’s health practice, said at the time: “Not only do health organizations need to stay vigilant in safeguarding personal information, they need to build a foundation of digital trust with patients to help weather the storm of a breach.”


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