Americans are far less concerned about the security of their health data than breaches of financial information, a recent SCOUT Rare Insights survey shows. Accordingly, only about half (49 percent) of adults said they are "extremely" or "very concerned" about security of lab results, diagnoses and other health information, compared with 69 percent who had that level of concern about the safety of their financial data.

All of these precious jewels come to light as hackers and cyber thieves continue to make a push for health data and push upon organizations' data security concerns.

The reason for the continued push for healthcare data is obvious — healthcare organizations are continuing to amass more and more patient data, and their patients are pushing to engage with their caregivers through technology, portals and electronic health records. The takeaway is that providers and payers "will need to do more to make people aware of best practices and risks."

Additionally, a study by Accenture and the American Medical Association found that 80 percent of physicians have experienced a cybersecurity attack. The most common type of attack was phishing, experienced by 55 percent of those experiencing an attack, followed by computer viruses, which 48 percent reported as part of an attack.

Physicians in the study said that if they experienced a cyberattack, only 11 percent notified the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI, and 10 percent notified the Office of Civil Rights. Of those attacked, more than half worried that such attacks could "undermine patient safety, and roughly three-fourths thought future attacks could disrupt their clinical practices and compromise patient records."

Another study, by the Ponemon Institute, found that 62 percent of healthcare leaders said their organization experienced a cyberattack in the past year, and more than half said the event resulted in loss of patient data. Patient medical records and patient billing information were the top two targets of hackers.

In most cases, the ultimate goal of an attack or hack is the patient (or patient data), and the physician or the healthcare organization is the middle man.

Healthcare has become the second largest sector of the U.S. economy, accounting for 18 percent of gross domestic product in 2017, CSO reported earlier this year. The sector’s cybersecurity attacks are rising because of this.

"We need to be much more aware and concerned about the safety of our health data," Raffi Siyahian, principal at SCOUT, said in a statement. "First, the risk of having our medical data exposed is pretty significant. And second, the consequences of someone gaining unauthorized access to your personal health information can be far more damaging than having someone illegally access your personal financial information."

"We need to guard and monitor our health insurance cards and medical service statements as rigorously as we guard and monitor our credit cards and bank statements," Siyahian said.

Healthcare organizations need to do their part, too. This includes steps such as practicing diligent cyber hygiene, reinforcing network segmentation, achieving transparent visibility and control and employing advanced threat intelligence protocols.