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Ninety-Four percent of hospitals suffer data breaches

A new study by Michigan’s Ponemon Institute reports hospitals are easy places for thieves to make off with a treasure trove of information.

The Institute is in Traverse City and studies information security.  In the “Third Annual Benchmark Study on Patient Privacy and Data Security”, Ponemon found 94 percent of hospitals have suffered data breeches.

He noted that hospitals are not always aware of the risks.  In one instance, he says, a Doctor left a wireless tablet unattended as he was called to a patient.  It was stolen but Ponemon says the hospital didn't realize the scope of the threat.  “When the tablet is in the hands of a stranger, or potentially a cyber criminal.  That cyber criminal now has access to, you know, potentially a hundred thousand or a million patient records.”

Ponemon says the study showed that the pressure of working fast in a hospital often takes precedence over security protocols.

The newest area of security concern is implanted technology, because devices like Pace Makers can now be hacked.

“So think about it”, he says.  “You know - your pacemaker is hacked and you basically suffer or potentially die from that.  Those are the kind of issues that can occur.  Those are emerging topics that we’re going to study hopefully in the not too distant future.”

The challenge for that is -- who is responsible for that data protection?  In the study, Ponemon says hospitals felt that issue was in the hands of the manufacturers of implanted devices.

- Chris Zollars, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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