Cyber liability insurance for physicians is rising in popularity due to the increasing risk of cyber attacks on healthcare facilities and medical practices. There’s always a possibility of your network systems being hacked or one of your laptops being stolen, which may cost you a lot. Being a physician always comes with risks, and dealing with a cyber breach of your clinic and practice may be a part of it.

Physicians should get cyber liability insurance as it can provide financial protection and support in case of a data breach or cyber attack. As the use of technology in healthcare rises, so do cyber attacks on medical practices. It’s not only large hospitals and clinics; small independent practices also get hacked. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the reasons why physicians should invest in cyber liability insurance and how it can benefit them in the long run. But let’s start by inspecting what’s at stake and investigating the potential threats physicians face daily.

The Risks of Being a Physician in the Digital Age

With the advancement of technology, more and more healthcare facilities are adopting electronic health records and other digital systems to streamline processes and improve patient care. While this brings numerous benefits, it also opens up vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks.

Physicians not only have access to sensitive patient information but also have valuable data such as:

  • Medical research.
  • Financial records.
  • Employee data.
  • Personally identifiable information (PII).

If this data falls into the wrong hands, it attracts disastrous consequences for the physician and their patients. Cyber attacks can result in:

  • Identity theft.
  • Financial loss.
  • Loss of trust from patients and the public.
  • Legal repercussions.

A cyber attack can compromise all this information, attracting substantial losses and reputation damage for the practice or physician. 

Some risks are so peculiar to the digital world that they may not be covered in general physician liability insurance.

Moreover, physicians may not be aware of the potential threats they face in the digital age. For example, phishing emails are often disguised as legitimate requests for patient information. 

Another threat entails malicious software that can infiltrate the system and steal data without detection.

What’s at Stake?

Information on patient profiles is valuable, putting healthcare practices in the top cost category for data breaches. According to some studies, the healthcare sector accounted for the largest percentage of breaches due to stolen computers, hacking, and rogue employees. 

Breaches aren’t discovered immediately—it usually takes time to figure it out and estimate its damages. Your system may have already been hacked, so it is best to take certain precautions. 

Since the beginning of 2023, over 40 million patient records have been compromised in 327 healthcare data breaches reported to the Office of Civil Rights.

More than 725 breaches, which comprised more than 133 million patient records, were reported to the Office of Civil Rights by the end of 2023. Data breaches and system hacks often stir up unmeasurable troubles for you and your patients. 

These numbers are still rising, and physicians must proactively protect their patients’ data. 

In addition, healthcare providers also face regulatory consequences if they fail to protect patient information adequately. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requires that all healthcare organizations implement security measures to safeguard personal health information. 

Failing to comply with HIPAA requirements could result in costly fines and even criminal charges. It could affect the reputation of a physician’s practice, but it can also lead to legal repercussions that can have serious consequences.

HIPAA on Patient-Doctor Confidentiality 

HIPAA is a U.S. legislation to protect personal health information. Any healthcare provider, including physicians, is required to adhere to HIPAA standards or face penalties. These standards include rules and safeguards to protect patient data, as well as notifying patients in case of a breach. 

The privacy rule under HIPAA requires healthcare providers to protect all forms of patient health information, including paper records and electronic medical records. It obligates physicians to ensure that only authorized personnel can access patient data, which should be stored securely. 

Additionally, HIPAA has strict guidelines for handling and disposing of sensitive patient information to prevent potential breaches.

Overall, understanding and complying with HIPAA regulations is crucial for physicians to maintain patient-doctor confidentiality and avoid any legal repercussions. Healthcare providers must track and comply with any changes or updates to HIPAA policies to protect their patients’ privacy. 

To ensure the security of patient information, physicians must proactively safeguard their digital systems. They have to:

  • Implement strong passwords and regularly change them.
  • Encrypt sensitive data.
  • Update software and operating systems regularly to protect against known vulnerabilities.
  • Educate physician assistants on cybersecurity best practices and potential threats. Conduct regular staff training and practice assessments. 
  • Perform regular security risk assessments to identify and address any potential vulnerabilities.

In addition to these technical measures, physicians must also maintain physical safeguards for patient information. It includes storing paper records in locked cabinets and limiting access to authorized personnel only. 

Furthermore, physicians need to practice proper communication protocols when discussing patient information. Avoid discussing sensitive information in public areas and always verify the identity of individuals requesting patient data. 

What Is Cyber Liability Insurance? 

It’s an insurance package for healthcare professionals that serves as a safety measure for cyber liability and as an additional endorsement to your medical professional liability policy. The comprehensive coverage includes:

  • Network Asset Protection.
  • Cyber Extortion Coverage.
  • Cyber Terrorism Coverage.
  • Multimedia Insurance.
  • Privacy Liability.
  • Security Liability.
  • Third-Party Breach Coverage.
  • PR Services Coverage.
  • Regulatory Defense and Penalties Coverage.
  • Breach Response Cost, Patient Notification, and Patient Support.

What More Can You Do? 

Even with insurance, it’s important to continuously test and upgrade your security measures and stay informed about potential threats. Regular staff training can also help prevent internal breaches by raising awareness of proper protocols for handling patient information. 

Also, regularly backing up data can help minimize the impact. The following are some additional steps you can take to further protect your medical practice data:

Final Thoughts on Cyber Liability Insurance for Physicians

Considering the cost of stolen, hacked, or lost records has rocketed, your practice as a physician could be at risk once your system is breached without insurance. If you want to know more about this insurance and have other needs aside from what is included in the malpractice liability insurance, an insurance advisor would be glad to service you.

At Professional Insurance Plans, we hope these tips help you run a safe operation. Your patients should be able to trust your services. Let us guide you through this process so you may find peace of mind. 

For your questions and insurance needs, contact us at (859) 543-8955.