Do Hospital Data Breaches Reduce Patient Care Quality?

by   Sung J. Choi, et al.

Objective: To estimate the relationship between a hospital data breach and hospital quality outcome Materials and Methods: Hospital data breaches reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services breach portal and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse database were merged with the Medicare Hospital Compare data to assemble a panel of non-federal acutecare inpatient hospitals for years 2011 to 2015. The study panel included 2,619 hospitals. Changes in 30-day AMI mortality rate following a hospital data breach were estimated using a multivariate regression model based on a difference-in-differences approach. Results: A data breach was associated with a 0.338[95 percentage point increase in the 30-day AMI mortality rate in the year following the breach and a 0.446[95 two years after the breach. For comparison, the median 30-day AMI mortality rate has been decreasing about 0.4 percentage points annually since 2011 due to progress in care. The magnitude of the breach impact on hospitals' AMI mortality rates was comparable to a year's worth historical progress in reducing AMI mortality rates. Conclusion: Hospital data breaches significantly increased the 30-day mortality rate for AMI. Data breaches may disrupt the processes of care that rely on health information technology. Financial costs to repair a breach may also divert resources away from patient care. Thus breached hospitals should carefully focus investments in security procedures, processes, and health information technology that jointly lead to better data security and improved patient outcomes.


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