Understanding the Rise of Ransomware Attacks on Rural Hospitals

Among the key findings in this brief from the University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center:

  • Rural hospitals experienced an increasing number of ransomware attacks from 2016 to 2021.
  • From 2016 to 2021, 43 rural hospitals across 22 states experienced a ransomware attack.
  • Ransomware attacks afflicted all types of rural hospitals, including Critical Access Hospitals (N=9), Sole Community Hospitals (N=13), Rural Referral Centers (N=3), and hospitals paid under Medicare’s Inpatient Prospective Payment System (N=18).
  • Eighty-four percent of ransomware attacks on rural hospitals resulted in operational disruptions. Common disruptions included electronic system downtime (81%), delays or cancellations in scheduled care (42%), and ambulance diversion (33%). Operational disruptions were similar in rural and urban hospital settings.