New Bill Aims to Better Protect Rural Hospitals from Cyberattacks

A new bill proposes to better educate rural hospitals on how to prevent cyber attacks.

By Mackenna Moralez, Associate Editor
May 24, 2023

It seems like every day there is another healthcare facility announcing that it has fallen victim to a cyberattack. And the stats prove it. According to research conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the number of attacks on hospitals doubled each year between 2016 and 2021 from 43 to 91. Meanwhile, a study by Check Point Research found that hospitals and other healthcare facilities suffered from the most cyberattacks in 2022 with 1,410 weekly attacks per organization.  

Government officials are beginning to notice the strain these types of attacks put on the United States’ healthcare system. In a new policy proposal issued by Sen. Mark Warner, a new Senate bill would create a rural hospital cybersecurity workforce development strategy that would address these challenges. According to SC Media, the bill would direct the Department of Homeland Security to develop a plan with the departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor to address the need for cyber professionals. 

Rural hospitals have had to face their own challenges these last few years. There are currently over 500 rural hospitals at immediate risk of closure due to financial losses and lack of financial deserves to sustain operations, according to a report by the Center for Healthcare Quality and Price Reform. Nearly every state has at least one rural hospital at immediate risk of closure, while 21 states have 25 percent of more rural hospitals at risk. Meanwhile, the lack of budgets and staff at these facilities limit the ability to adequately secure networks, potentially putting patients’ lives at risk.  

According to SC Media, the bill would direct the DHS secretary confer with rural healthcare providers from specific geographic regions to create an effective cybersecurity plan. In addition, rural health and cybersecurity education stakeholders to identify instructional materials to be used in these areas.  

The proposal aims to strengthen partnerships between hospital leaders, educational institutions and other private-sector entities to build out cyber training and education programs. According to SC Media, the cybersecurity curriculum and teaching resources would be designed for use in community colleges, vocational schools and other educational institutions in rural areas.  

If the bill is passed, the DHS would be required to provide instructional materials for rural hospitals to better train staff on cyber security efforts.  

Mackenna Moralez is the associate editor of the facilities market.  

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Topic Area: Information Technology

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