Demographic data, insurance information, and lab results—these were the types of highly sensitive data that were compromised from 45 million patient records in 20211, an all-time high record that’s forcing the industry to sound the alarms and underscore the importance of data security in healthcare.
Data privacy in healthcare is becoming an emergency of its own kind. From the ‘perfect storm’ in 20202 to an all-time high in 2021, cybersecurity breaches are costing the healthcare industry more than ever. According to an IBM report, the healthcare industry suffered the worst financial costs from data breaches3 of any sector in 2021 ($9.2 million per incident), followed by the financial sector ($5.7 million), by a factor of 60%.
Why is data protection important in healthcare? The fact of the matter is that medical providers rely heavily on patient data to function. These records hold highly sensitive personal information—a person’s address, medical history, social security number, and payment account information—and must be properly secured from malicious attacks to ensure the patient’s privacy and safety. However, many healthcare providers still use outdated IT infrastructure and operating systems, making it significantly easier for illicit actors to breach their networks.
Phishing and ransomware4 are two of the most frequent types of cybersecurity attacks experienced by healthcare providers, according to Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).
Heightened cybersecurity threats in the healthcare industry are rooted in the type of data that is collected. Medical records hold an extensive amount of information—a person’s address, social security number, and payment account information—that are immensely more valuable than other types of stolen data. A stolen medical record can be worth as much as $1,0006 in the black market, while credit card information is only $5.
Today, patients conveniently receive care from their health providers through apps, remote patient monitoring tools, and wearables. At the same time, healthcare providers benefit from the added value of these technologies, allowing them to boost customer satisfaction, reduce human error, and cut infrastructure costs.
These technologies are what make up the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)—a collection of devices, applications, and infrastructures that communicate with each other through a connected IT medical system. The interconnection of medical devices has not only optimized clinical processes but also simplified the management of medical workflows.
Additionally, the aging population7 and the increase in movement restrictions and physical distancing during the pandemic have changed health technology as we know it. Insider Intelligence estimates that 30 million U.S. patients8 will use some form of remote telehealth device by 2024, tracking data like blood pressure, weight, heart rate, and blood sugar with wearables.
All these indicate that the role of the IoMT is becoming more of a necessity than a “nice to have” to deliver quality healthcare. However, the increase and proliferation of patient data on various platforms make it more vulnerable to attacks and bad actors.
Unmitigated disaster is potentially contagious, so a compromised network is bound to infect not only a healthcare provider’s operations but also patient trust. It’s up to healthcare executives to reevaluate their healthcare solutions and provide better patient data protection to ensure the safety of people under their care.
With the integration of medical software systems comes massive amounts of data that require safeguarding, making healthcare data protection more challenging than ever. It's a critical time for healthcare providers to step up and update their systems for patient data security.
Create an extensive analysis to understand your current capabilities
One vital step in improving patient data privacy is the thorough assessment of all current cybersecurity systems in place. This includes identifying possible risks and weaknesses that need to be updated, replaced, or repaired. Knowing where the organization is in terms of cybersecurity will help create the appropriate road map toward a safer network.
Utilize emerging technologies being developed for health data privacy
Looking into emerging security trends is another crucial course of action. One that is gaining traction in the healthcare industry is the Zero Trust Approach9, which requires all users to be continuously validated for security configuration before gaining access to applications and data. The Zero Trust approach assumes that no implicit trust is guaranteed, whether the network is local or not, creating a unique solution to the challenges cybersecurity systems face today.
Another formula to ensuring better healthcare data security is partnering with experts who can provide innovative solutions to protect your members and patients. Since 2008, TaskUs has been a trusted partner of healthcare companies in delivering Ridiculously Good digital member and patient experiences in an ever-changing healthcare environment.
Here’s what healthcare data security is like with Us:
We prioritize healthcare data security through comprehensive identity verification with our excellent combination of people, processes, and technology. We also function as the ultimate optimizer, increasing operational efficiency and generating value worth millions to reduce friction and time for medical practitioners, insurance partners, and healthcare providers. After all, the end goal is to ensure that every patient receives the quality care they deserve.