VA sees sharp drop in PHI breaches in March

The number of veterans impacted by data breaches fell by 65 percent in March compared to February, according to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Last month, 383 veterans saw their information compromised by a data breach incident; 265 were public health information incidents. In February, 891 vets were affected, with 770 of them PHI breaches, according to that month's report.

The majority of incidents last month were from lost or stolen devices (50), lost PIV cards (154), mishandled incidents (105) and miss-mailed incidents (165).

The drop in incidents is likely in part due to a response to recent criticisms the agency has faced over its IT vulnerabilities.

Last November, the Government Accountability Office criticized the VA for not doing enough to address security issues. The report said the VA didn't fix network vulnerabilities more than a year after it was made public that the agency had been the target of at least eight intrusions believed to be backed by foreign nations. In response to the report, the agency added $60 million to its cybersecurity budget.

In addition, the agency is looking to boost that even more; it asked for an additional $24 million for its fiscal 2016 budget, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

The agency has seen other problems when it comes to IT. In early March, reports stated the VA's Chief Business Office violated the law by misusing $92.5 million for a health IT project, according to the VA Office of Inspector General.

To learn more:
- here's the March report (.pdf)

Suggested Articles

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the management of their private data and the lack of transparency, particularly for their healthcare data.

Pharmacy giant Walgreens is testing an on-demand drone delivery service with Alphabet's Wing Aviation beginning next month.

Industry efforts to lift a ban on using federal funding for a unique patient identifier hit a roadblock in the Senate Wednesday.