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5 Takeaways about Health Care Cybersecurity

November 11, 2022

A new report from the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee highlights the growing cybersecurity challenges facing health care.

The report, “Cybersecurity is Patient Safety,” focuses on policy options in the health care sector. It’s the latest in a series of initiatives seeking to protect hospital operations and patient care from a growing list of digital threats.

“Cyberattacks can be detrimental to patient safety, as they can lock physicians out of treatment tools, shut down hospital equipment used for care, and create backlogs that delay appointments and treatment,” the report notes.

Among the points of emphasis in the report:

  • Growing challenge:  During 2021, cyberattacks against health care providers reached an all-time high, affecting more than 45 million people.
  • Collaborative approaches:  Protecting cybersecurity requires a collaborative approach across federal agencies to help ensure cybersecurity integrity in commercial and infrastructure networks.
  • Workforce shortages:  Like other sectors within health care, there is a workforce shortage of available cybersecurity professionals. The report estimates the global shortage was about 2.72 million during 2021.
  • Recovery:  Responding to a cyberattack requires an all-hazards approach. The report notes that “CMS could better direct facilities to consider cyberattacks in the same category as the other hazards above for the purpose of developing specific emergency preparedness procedures.”
  • Main takeaway:  “Changing the health care sector’s posture toward cybersecurity will require significant effort and resources from both the public and private sector,” the report notes.

HAP will continue to monitor the latest cybersecurity developments and provide updates to members.

The report is available to review online.

For more information, contact Jason Tomashunas, MS, CHEP, HAP manager, emergency management. John Riggi, the AHA’s senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk, also offers coverage and resources about health care cybersecurity.