Healthcare Industry Must Focus on Improving Cybersecurity in 2017

March 17, 2017

One of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare industry is defending against cyber attacks. The increase of online technology in healthcare and the switch to EHRs has streamlined operations, yet it's also given potential hackers a backdoor for identity theft. Let's examine this topic more and look at some leading industry sources to see why the healthcare industry must focus on improving cybersecurity in 2017.

Industry Sources Define the Problem

Hackers are after EHRs because of the amount of sensitive information they contain about patients, most importantly, social security and credit card numbers. These are being stolen every day through various hacking techniques, such as: phishing, ransomware, malware, and hacking.

As the healthcare industry becomes increasingly paperless and continues to integrate advanced technologies within day-to-day workflows, hackers are finding more opportunities to attack and gain access to systems.

An article found on themerkle.com, called: “Healthcare Industry Saw 63% More Cyberattacks in 2016”, written on December 24, 2016 by JP Buntinx, explains the reasons:

“...there is the lack of embracing new technologies to improve overall security...due to a shortage of budget...not having the right IT staff...secondly, there is human error...clicking attachments in emails as long as they appear to be from a genuine sender...Medical device hijacking remains the number one worrisome trend throughout 2016...hackers looking to gain remote system access.”

Health Tech Zone validates this concern in a recent article called: “Healthcare Industry May See more Cyberattacks Due to the IoT”, written on January 5, 2017, as it explains:

“Most healthcare and other business executives have recently found that the IoT has begun to expand the kinds of cyberattacks they normally suffer.

...The year 2015 alone should have shocked executives into investing more into cybersecurity, but 2016 also saw some of the worst hits on healthcare systems...only 31 percent of healthcare organizations reported extensive use of encryption. Twenty percent reported not using any encryption at all.”

To further validate the problem, we find an article on FierceHealthcare.com, called: “Cybersecurity: What 2016 taught the healthcare industry”, written on December 19, 2016 by Marla Durben Hirsch, as she explains:

“One of the biggest developments in EHRs and health IT in 2016 – unfortunately – was the rise of cyberattacks.

...The problem has become so pervasive that the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has included in its workplan for 2017 its intent to investigate how well providers are protecting EHR information.”

Although the health care is a main target for hackers these days, cybersecurity is a major concern for any industry that deals with sensitive information. As cloud and mobile computing software technologies advance, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated to take advantage of the transition.

Related: How to Protect Your Organization from Cyber Attacks

Major Focus Kept in Perspective for Healthcare Industry

Providers, health plans, vendors, and the businesses that support the industry, will all benefit by focusing on improving their cybersecurity efforts in 2017. Although the transition to the EHRs and cloud and mobile computing technologies has created opportunities for hackers, they're also solving complex issues with patient engagement, administrative tasks, referral management, preventative care, and more.

FierceHealthcare gives some solutions to focus on:

  • Reviewing the security of any EHR or other product...choose the more secure solution...

  • Training employees to recognize cyberthreats and other risks...

  • Backing up EHR and other data responsibly...

  • Following the security requirements outlined in HIPAA.

  • Using access controls.”

Improving cybersecurity is a task businesses often take seriously in hindsight, usually just after a breach has occurred. Yet, this doesn't have to be the case! With diligence and focus around improving cybersecurity, businesses and organizations involved in this heavily targeted industry can prevent hacks and breaches of sensitive patient data.

The healthcare industry wants to get to a place where it can confidently use any advantageous technologies being developed, without risking becoming vulnerable to cyberattacks. Some advanced cloud and mobile computing software and technologies are addressing these concerns themselves, ensuring a more secure environment in the future, especially when combined with the diligent efforts of those involved in the industry.

Summary

When looking at the major focuses in the healthcare industry for 2017, cybersecurity should be vital. Cybersecurity has been a growing problem, especially, since the transition to EHRs. Wearables and mobile technologies, along with cloud software solutions, have created avenues that hackers cab use to breach systems and steal important patient data.

There are bound to be hiccups when integrating new technologies, yet these technologies are also providing solutions for many complex challenges facing the healthcare industry, such as: gaps in patient engagement, overburdened administrative staffs, patient satisfaction with health plans, preventative care for lower costs, and overall healthcare outcomes.

MedXM understands how beneficial technology can be in producing better health outcomes for everyone involved. As a national leader in the design and implementation of preventative care technology and health risk assessments, we've been effectively helping health plans engage and connect with their members for over 25 years.

MedXM is diligent in our efforts to use secure technologies, combined with the personal touch of in-home visits from healthcare professionals for health plan members. If interested in learning more please contact us today.

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