Pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”), covered entities (e.g. healthcare providers and health plans) must notify the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) of breaches of unsecured protected health information (“PHI”).1 The information provided to HHS provides companies with a high level of insight concerning the types of breaches that occur in the health care industry.
The data collected by HHS concerning breaches affecting 500 or more individuals within the last 24 months, as of November 20, 2017, shows hacking/IT incidents surpassed unauthorized access or disclosure as the most common forms of data breach in the health sector.
The percentage of reported breaches caused by unauthorized access or disclosure.2
The percentage of reported breaches caused by improper disposal and loss.3
The percentage of reported breaches caused by theft of hardware of all types.4
The percentage of reported breaches caused by hacking/IT incidents.5
Things to consider when reviewing your information security program in light of HHS data:
1. 45 C.F.R. §164.408(a)-(b).
2. U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Servs. Office for Civ. Rights, Breaches Affecting 500 or More Individuals, https://ocrportal.hhs.gov/ocr/breach/breach_report.jsf (November 20, 2017).