Data Security in Healthcare

Healthcare data includes highly sensitive personal information and organizations handling it must ensure that patients’ personal information remains protected. Unfortunately, healthcare data breaches are far too common.

A recent report found that data breaches in the healthcare industry affected 45 million people in 2021, an increase from 34 million people in 2020 and 14 million people in 2018. Given the staggering scale of these breaches, it is critical for organizations that handle healthcare data to see cybersecurity as a critical part of their mission.

Understandably, healthcare organizations are mostly focused on providing or assisting with treatment. But these organizations also need to see themselves as part of the information technology ecosystem. This requires having the correct processes and structures in place, as well as keeping up with the latest developments in cybersecurity. Threats need to be quickly identified and responded to in order to limit organizational damage and safeguard patients.

Healthcare Data Risk Factors

Organizations that handle healthcare data need to understand the risk factors associated with protecting it.

The value of personal information

Hackers will go to great lengths to access personal information, and as such, healthcare information can be particularly valuable. In addition to protecting patient information, healthcare companies that handle financial transactions must also protect this data. Even something as seemingly innocuous as transaction histories can be valuable to hackers.

Level of security investment

Protecting healthcare data requires a significant investment in cybersecurity infrastructure, and unfortunately, many organizations are not prioritizing this infrastructure. Small organizations in particular appear to be downplaying the importance of investing in cybersecurity infrastructure.

Level of workforce training

There's an old saying in cybersecurity — people are the weakest link. Effective protection of healthcare data requires cybersecurity training throughout an entire organization, from the lowest level employees all the way to top executives. A lack of cybersecurity training means people are more likely to fall for phishing scams, ransomware and other types of attacks.

The Impact of Healthcare Data Breaches

Healthcare organizations that do not shore up their cybersecurity are at increased risk for devastating data breaches. A 2021 report from IBM indicated the healthcare industry has the highest average financial damages caused as a result of a data breach: $9.2 million per event. The same report found it took an average of 212 days to detect a breach and an average of 75 days to contain it.

Both the cost and the time needed to address a data breach can have crippling effects for any healthcare company. A data breach can also impact an organization’s ability to deliver care. Research from CSIA showed hospitals affected by cyberattack had a greater chance of network failure, making it more difficult for staff to access patient records and use medical technology.

How to Protect Healthcare Data

Protecting healthcare data starts with making significant investments. Existing labor shortages in healthcare IT were further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, cybersecurity in the sector has fallen behind. Furthermore, many healthcare executives still grappling with the impacts of the pandemic haven't prioritized cybersecurity investments. Increasingly outdated systems and these facilities have become attractive targets for hackers.

Up-to-date IT infrastructure can significantly decrease the risk of a data breach. Investments in infrastructure should include systems to encrypt all healthcare data for storage and transmission, backup systems and access control systems. Healthcare organizations should also be investing in cybersecurity training for every individual. Training should focus on preventative measures and what steps to take in the event of a data breach.

Contact Taylored Systems for Healthcare Data Security Solutions

Taylored Systems can provide your healthcare organization with a free cybersecurity health check and a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that includes both ongoing consultation and infrastructure development.

Our proven approach to cybersecurity starts by identifying all of your IT assets, including sensitive data, hardware, software, security controls, data storage protection, information flows, information security architecture and network topology. Our experts then evaluate all of the cyber risks that your healthcare organization is facing. While data breaches may be your topmost concern, it is also important to assess other risks, such as those related to service disruption.

Taylored Systems is well equipped to offer IT security solutions for healthcare organizations because our experts are well-versed in the industry’s specific security challenges. We also understand the compliance challenges related to privacy laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In addition to protecting data, we also make it easy for doctors, nurses and other health care personnel to quickly access medical records and use essential medical technology. Please contact us today to learn more about our healthcare data security solutions.