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Healthcare Data Breaches Up 40% Since 2015

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   February 21, 2017

Reports of hacking and insider theft are at an all-time high in the healthcare industry.

When a U.S. attorney called South Florida "an epicenter of identity theft" last month, it was in the context of announcing federal charges against more than 100 suspected fraudsters.

One of them was a former Jackson Health System employee accused of accessing the health system's computer databases to steal patient data. The rogue employee, a former secretary, was accused of pilfering the social security numbers of more than 24,000 people over the course of five years. She was placed on administrative leave in 2016.

But the Miami-based safety net health system is certainly not alone in experiencing data breaches. According to a report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, the healthcare/medical industry experienced 377 reported data breach incidents in 2016, behind only the business sector in the number of incidents.

The healthcare industry represented 34.5% of the overall total number of breaches among the five industries tracked in the report.

The total number of breaches among the five industries included in the report is now at an all-time high. But ITRC experts said in a statement it's hard to tell whether there are more actually more breaches each year or simply more reporting of breaches. In total, there were 1,093 reported data breaches in 2016. In 2015 there were 780—a 40% increase.

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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