It's likely that your health system, hospital or practice will soon be the victim of a cyber crime. Your medical public relations disaster is not “if,” but “when.”
The actual victims include patients and the loss of personal data. Compromised health record information is a medical public relations emergency waiting to happen. Your brand and marketing goodwill is vulnerable.
That is, if it hasn’t happened already. Your patient electronic medical records (EMR) database is a prime target. Perhaps it was among the 100-million-plus health records already stolen. “Experts say healthcare record hacking is skyrocketing. It's up an astounding 11,000 percent last year alone,” according to NBC News.
“Roughly one out of every three Americans had their health care records compromised and most are completely unaware. Such hacks give criminals a wealth of personal information that, unlike a credit card number, can last forever.”
Many records show up for sale where hackers openly advertise what they've stolen. “One site offers fresh healthcare profiles stolen last year in California boasting ‘you can use those profiles for normal fraud stuff or to get a brand new healthcare plan for yourself.’”
Recent examples range from insurance companies to doctor’s offices. And from a big city medical center to a rural, community hospital.
A few months ago, a high-profile Los Angeles hospital was the victim of a cyber attack for ransom. With nationwide news coverage, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center reportedly paid “about $17,000 to hackers who infiltrated and disabled its computer network.”
News coverage was less spectacular at the 18-bed Clay County Hospital (in Illinois). An undisclosed ransom was demanded for stolen patient records.
Cybersecurity experts warn that electronic health records are an attractive target for hackers for several reasons:
There’s no “good news” side to being the victim of identity theft and/or ransom. Statistics say that it’s likely to happen to you. Use the time to prepare in advance for how you will deal with the PR, marketing and patient experience side of “bad news.” Some steps to take:
If you don’t have a medical public relations plan in place, give us a call at (800) 656-0907. We can discuss your business goals and a cost effective healthcare public relations program.