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Why Cybersecurity in the Healthcare Industry Requires a Holistic Approach

Data privacy has been thrust into the spotlight this year, with several high-profile breaches and new global threats seemingly popping up each day. While information security is important for all consumer industries, healthcare organizations possess highly-sensitive personal data and therefore have a critical responsibility to keep their patients safe. According to a report by cybersecurity provider Protenus, there were 477 data breaches impacting 5.6 million patient records in 2017. In order to maintain patient security and to trust the integrity of their systems, providers need to adopt a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. At HealthTECH Resources, Inc., we work with many leading providers to help them not only keep their patients’ data safe but turn it into actionable insights. As a result, we have gained a unique view of the tactics that are most effective. Here are a few that stand out for our clients:

  1. Make smart decisions about technology based on organizational goals: Perhaps this one seems obvious, but all too often in our hyperconnected world, we see organizations that quickly move to adopt technology without having a full understanding on how it will integrate within their broader tech stack. Remember, each new technology and tool is another potential channel where data can be compromised or inadvertently manipulated. Smart organizations will develop a safety protocol and plans for each new piece of technology and ensure that they are working with reputable and secure vendors.
  2. Employ highly-technical talent to stay ahead of security threats: For many healthcare organizations, internal cybersecurity teams may not be adequately resourced to stay ahead of threats and to ensure data safety. Increasingly, providers are looking to outside experts to focus on specific areas of the business in order to maintain data integrity and trust. As new technology and regulations emerge, having talent that is up-to-speed and focused is critical for healthcare organizations that want to stay out of the headlines.
  3. Train all users across the organization: Again, this one might seem obvious, but according to MediaPro’s 2017 State of Privacy and Security Awareness Report, a whopping 78 percent of healthcare employees showed some lack of preparedness with common privacy and security threat scenarios. Employees that are handling data throughout the care continuum have a responsibility to ensure it is kept safe and secure, but the responsibility of training those employees rests with the organization. We work frequently with providers to help them design comprehensive training programs that fit the custom needs of their organizations.

Certainly, these are simplified steps, the truth is, recognizing a best-in-class, secure healthcare organization requires a highly-skilled team, ongoing planning, and strategy, as well as an integrated set of technology and systems. As new threats emerge and regulatory considerations evolve, providers will need to continue to stay ahead of the curve to be successful and to fulfill their responsibility to patients.

Are you planning to improve your cybersecurity ecosystem? Reach out and I’d love to set you up with one of our expert consultants to see how we might be able to help you achieve your goals.

How Healthcare Providers Can Use Technology to Their Advantage

While healthcare providers’ primary responsibility is to their patients, of course, maintaining a healthy business is still of considerable importance. As technology has become increasingly complex, healthcare leaders have faced new challenges in ensuring stability and growth for their organizations. According to a recent Forbes article by healthcare reporter Claire Rychlewski, poor implementation and management of technology is hurting the valuation of many healthcare providers and in some cases preventing mergers and acquisitions from taking place. According to Rychlewski, “as technology becomes more integral to healthcare and valuations continue to climb, the margin for error is razor-thin when it comes to assessing the health of a target company’s technology, dealmakers say.”

So, what can providers do to realize the benefits of innovative technology without putting their companies in a risky position? At HealthTECH Resources, Inc. we have worked with many of the nation’s leading providers over the past 20 years, and have found a consistent thread in organizations that are able to make technology work for them: investing in process, training, and accuracy.

Certainly, juggling patient care, compliance, revenue growth, and cost management is a difficult task for healthcare providers. But when organizations are thoughtful about the adoption of technology from a human standpoint, not just from a systems standpoint, it becomes far easier to achieve comprehension for end users, patient data security, and integration between otherwise disparate systems.

Modern healthcare providers should involve subject matter experts at all stages of their technology lifecycle, from system selection to implementation, to integration and long-term maintenance. As recent examples like those mentioned in Rychlewski’s article have shown, it is far more cost effective to get the technology right at the outset that it is to have to deal with regulatory issues down the line. At the same time, providers need to develop comprehensive plans, training programs for end-users, and cyber security protocol to ensure that the entire care continuum is optimized for all participants, including the broader business.

As a new technology, such as artificial intelligence, wearable devices, and even the blockchain for security, continue to infiltrate the healthcare space, it is easy to see why providers (and their patients) will be eager to adopt them and recognize their benefits. But in order to improve not just patient outcomes but also the health of the business, organizational leaders must take the appropriate steps to plan, involve highly-skilled technical talent at all stages, and ensure that everyone is equipped to utilize each technology to its full potential.

 

3 Ways to Optimize Your Healthcare Technology Systems

Data privacy is a notable and growing concern for organizations, regulators, and individuals, both here in the United States and abroad. In the past year, the issue has made headlines repeatedly, from Cambridge Analytica’s use of personal data during the 2016 election cycle to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Facebook’s API update designed to further protect users’ information.

While this topic has exploded across all industries, for healthcare providers that manage the most sensitive data on behalf of their patients, privacy concerns have always been a primary focus. Of course, protecting patient data while utilizing it to provide optimal care is an enormous challenge for healthcare organizations that require a comprehensive and agile strategy. At HealthTECH Resources, Inc., we work with many of the nation’s leading providers to help them execute on their data strategy. From our more than 20 years of experience, there are three characteristics that seem to lead to a successful data program:

  1. Investing in the correct data management technology: Healthcare technology has greatly evolved in recent years and staying up-to-date with emerging innovation and evolving regulatory considerations can seem overwhelming. Still, investing time and dollars into the correct Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, analytics tools, and cybersecurity software is a critical step to keeping data secure and making it useful to your medical teams so they can provide the best care for patients.
  2. Training and planning to ensure ongoing improvement: Yes, technology can be entirely burdensome to implement, but it becomes much more challenging to manage once real, live human beings start using it. Successful healthcare organizations recognize the need for comprehensive training of their end users, process planning, and in many cases, ongoing technical support from third-party experts.
  3. Finding highly-specific talent that can work with an integrated approach: It can be understandably difficult to simultaneously ensure your staff and your technology are working properly on a day-to-day basis while also setting in motion new processes, systems, and project plans to address a desired future state, but successful organizations we’ve worked with are able to do so without becoming overwhelmed. Doing so requires a combination of strategic and technical talent that can work together to optimize current systems, react to industry updates, and proactively prepare for innovation and growth.

Certainly, these characteristics are not the only ones that organizations must have in order to achieve a successful data management strategy, but they often present the biggest hurdles for healthcare technology leaders that we work with. As new regulations continue to crop up, and patients demand more transparency and accuracy in their care, it will be critical for healthcare providers to have the right technology, the right people, and the right strategies in place.

If your organization needs support in its technology strategy, please feel free to reach out and I can connect you to a relevant expert for a consultation.