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Source: Wikimedia Commons and Santeri Viinamäki

New Survey: Cyberattacks Hitting U.S. Physicians Hard

Tracey Romero • Mon, December 18th, 2017

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According to a survey by Accenture and the American Medical Association (AMA), more than four in five U.S. physicians (83%) have had a cyberattack in their clinical practices.

The survey results which were gathered from about 1,300 U.S. physicians suggest that it is not a matter of “if” a cyberattack will occur, but “when” it will occur. Fifty-five percent of the physicians were very concerned about future cyberattacks at their practice and about 74% were worried that cyberattacks could interrupt their practice. About 53% were worried about it impacting patient safety.

“The important role of information sharing within clinical care makes health care a uniquely attractive target for cyber criminals through computer viruses and phishing scams that, if successful, can threaten care delivery and patient safety,” said American Medical Association President David O. Barbe, M.D., M.H.A. in the release.

“New research shows that most physicians think that securely exchanging electronic data is important to improve health care. More support from the government, technology and medical sectors would help physicians with a proactive cybersecurity defense to better ensure the availability, confidentially and integrity of health care data.”

The most common types of cyberattack reported in the survey were phishing and computer viruses. About 64% of the physicians who were cyberattacked experienced up to four hours of downtime before they were able to get their systems back up and running.

The physicians surveyed indicated that while the sharing of personal health data is necessary, it needs to be done safely and HIPAA compliance is not enough protections.

“Physician practices should not rely on compliance alone to enhance their security profile,” said Kaveh Safavi, M.D., J.D., head of Accenture’s global health practice said in the release.

“Keeping pace with the sophistication of cyberattacks demands that physicians strengthen their capabilities, build resilience and invest in new technologies to support a foundation of digital trust with patients.”

Find the full survey findings here.

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