What is the Healthcare Cybersecurity Act? The Healthcare Cybersecurity Act of 2022 was introduced in March with the goal of strengthening connections between the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The act calls for an agreement to be drafted by both agencies, outlining plans to improve the infrastructure of cybersecurity throughout the healthcare field. If you’re wondering why a healthcare cybersecurity act was needed, you’re not alone. Many people questioned its necessity upon its announcement. There are a few reasons why it may be beneficial — and why medical professionals should be careful when handling matters of healthcare cybersecurity.
Cyberattacks from Russians
Cyberattacks from Russia have been a well-known concern since the 2016 election. Years later, these attacks have only worsened, and it’s clear that Russia will leverage any information it can access to achieve its political objectives. The American Hospital Association has sounded the alarm, warning healthcare facilities to be on high alert for two pieces of malware that could come from Russia. These threats could wipe out patient data and cripple healthcare professionals’ ability to provide care.
Increased Data Breaches
Russia isn’t the only potential culprit of cybersecurity threats. There are plenty of homegrown attackers, too, who are just as eager to exploit patient data through carefully calculated cyberattacks. These criminals seek to steal patient data and use it to commit identity theft or sell the information on the dark web. Healthcare providers need to be wary about unauthorized access to patient data, including those that may come from inside a healthcare facility.
Increased Healthcare Costs
One of the concerns specifically cited in the Healthcare Cybersecurity Act is the rising cost of healthcare that could result from continuous cyberattacks. Cyberattacks often slow or disable essential healthcare systems, and this causes lost productivity, service disruption, and damage to providers’ reputations that all ultimately cost money and increase costs. In order to mitigate these costs, healthcare facilities need to proactively prevent breaches from both inside and outside the facility. Facilities that don’t invest in protection will be forced to pay the price later as they struggle to recover from an attack.
Threat to Patient Outcomes
It’s no surprise that increased costs translate to worse patient outcomes. As healthcare costs rise, patients may be hesitant to seek out the care they need, and this allows ailments to progress before being treated. Similarly, the intense stress caused by expenses can thwart a patient’s ability to overcome their illness. The Healthcare Cybersecurity Act of 2022 aims to prevent a decline in patient outcomes due to cybersecurity issues. Hopefully it will achieve this objective so healthcare professionals can resume providing care without worry of cyberattacks.