Internal Negligence Responsible for Half of US Healthcare Data Breaches

High-profile data breaches perpetrated by cybercriminals and hackers might make big headlines, a recent study found that more than half of US healthcare data breaches are a result of internal issues, not external factors. Hospitals, doctors’ offices and even insurance companies are oftentimes the culprits, according to researchers from Michigan State University and Johns Hopkins University.


For the study, John Jiang, lead author and associate professor of accounting and information systems at MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business, and co-author Ge Bai, associate professor at the John’s Hopkins Carey Business School, carried out an in-depth investigation to identify triggers of the PHI data breaches. They reviewed nearly 1,150 cases between October 2009 and December 2017 that affected more than 164 million patients. The study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.


The new research follows the joint 2017 study that showed the magnitude of hospital data breaches in the United States. This revealed nearly 1,800 occurrences of large data breaches in patient information over seven years, with 33 hospitals experiencing more than one substantial breach.


The study found that more than half of the recent personal health information data breaches were because of internal issues with medical providers – not because of hackers or external parties.


“There’s no perfect way to store information, but more than half of the cases we reviewed were not triggered by external factors – but rather by internal negligence,” Jiang said in a press release about the study.

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