By Beth W. Orenstein
Vol. 18 No. 11 P. 18
Radiology needs to beef up proactive measures to prevent security breaches.
Last year, the health records of almost 17 million Americans were exposed, due largely to lost or stolen devices, hacking, and unauthorized disclosures, according to data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. The number of security breaches in 2016—328—were an all-time high, according to Bitglass, a protection company based in Campbell, California.
Health care hackers appear to be busy worldwide this year as well. One of the largest breaches was in May: A large ransomware attack hit the National Health Service of England and Scotland. Within two days, the WannaCry ransomware attack had spread to health systems in 150 countries.
Cyberattacks on patients’ health care information are scary enough, says Henri “Rik” Primo, chair of the medical imaging informatics section of the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA), a division of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). Primo also manages strategic relationships for the digital health services department in Siemens Healthineers. However, he says, the threat is not just to patients’ medical and financial information and Social Security numbers; it’s to their safety.
“What if a hack interferes with the correct operation of equipment?” Primo says. “Think of a CT scanner. What if the hacker interfered with the correct functioning of the scanner? Patient safety could be compromised.”
James Whitfill, MD, CIIP, CMO for Innovation Care Partners in Phoenix and an active member of HIMSS, agrees: “It is not just patients’ information that’s at risk of being compromised but their health itself.”