Health systems want the government to help 'shoulder the burden' of cyberattacks

Cyberattacks on healthcare entities boomed during the pandemic, and health systems are now turning to the federal government to provide more security for what they consider critical national infrastructure, Politico reported June 22. 

Lee Milligan, CIO of Medford, Ore.-based Asante Health System, said he wants federal agencies to work more directly with health systems to shoulder the burden of the attacks.

"It blows my mind that ultimately, it's on the individual hospital systems to attempt to — essentially in isolation — figure it out," said Mr. Milligan. "If a nation state has bombed bridges that connect over the Mississippi River and connect state A and B, would we be looking at it in the same way? And yet the same risk to life happens when they shut down a health system."

From January to June, the Office of Civil Rights reported 256 hacks and information breaches, up from 149 for the same period in 2021. 

Some health systems believe that federal efforts to assist health systems that experience cyberattacks, such as HHS, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, aren't enough. 

"What I really wanted was for them to put into place an actual specific framework for a partnership between individual health systems and the government on either protecting or responding or preferably both," Mr. Milligan said.  

On May 24, Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., chairman of the senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a report showing the government had insufficient data on cyberattacks hitting critical infrastructure, like healthcare facilities, to effectively protect the nation against these kinds of attacks. 

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