Federally Funded CPD For Medicos to Ward Off Cyber Criminals


The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Cyber Wardens, a federally funded initiative of the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA), have joined forces to warn small medical clinics and practices they are just as vulnerable to cybercrime as big companies such as Medibank.

Ransomware and data breaches are among the most significant threats, and healthcare providers topped the list of sectors reporting notifiable data breaches to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner in 2023. Some doctors are reportedly so worried about cyber attacks that they would prefer to return to paper records.

AMA (SA) President and rural GP Dr John Williams said online crime was one of the most pressing concerns for doctors and practice managers, particularly those working in under-resourced clinics in regional and remote areas. He said the association was fielding a rising number of enquiries about cyber safety.

“It is a huge concern,” Williams said. “There is a lot of uncertainty about what should be done, what the risks are, and how to address those risks. Anecdotally, I know that there is less uptake of electronic patient health records among specialists, as many see (paper records) as more secure. Unfortunately, that only slows the uptake of things that are good for our patients and the quality of care we can give. So, it would be a real pity to see cyber security concerns getting in the way of progress.”

“As a profession, we need to deal with cyber threats head-on and have proper practices and procedures in place. At the moment, it is a sleeper issue as our GPs are so busy, and many don’t know how to deal with it – or they are hoping it won’t happen, or lack the digital literacy to manage it.”

Australian doctors must complete 50 hours of continuous professional development (CPD) each year across different activities. Cyber Wardens is formally accredited for one hour of CPD learning for medical practitioners, veterinarians, medical practice managers and healthcare business owners.

By enrolling in the free CPD-accredited Cyber Wardens program, small healthcare businesses can now fulfil their professional development requirements while boosting their cyber awareness.

COSBOA CEO Luke Achterstraat said the CPD accreditation was a significant step towards safeguarding the industry. “We don’t want to see our health system end up on life support due to cybercriminals,” he said. “We know from research that only a third of Australian healthcare organisations embed cyber security awareness and training in their organisational policies and procedures.”