Healthcare is now largely digitized. This has led to some amazing advancements in patient care. Electronic protected health information (ePHI) is now more easily shared between providers, patients and organizations, helping to inform healthcare decisions and improve the overall quality of care. However, ePHI must be shared securely to comply with HIPAA regulations. As such, healthcare cybersecurity is among the top challenges facing healthcare organizations today.
Fortunately, organizations that take healthcare cybersecurity seriously can prevent the headaches that come with data breaches — and better protect their patients with the right proactive measures. Let’s look at what healthcare cybersecurity means and why it’s so important.
What is Healthcare Cybersecurity?
Healthcare cybersecurity is the approach any HIPAA-covered entity follows to secure its digital assets and ePHI. The goal of healthcare cybersecurity is to protect your digital infrastructure as much as possible so you can prevent attacks, breaches, and leaks before they happen.
Healthcare cybersecurity adds multiple layers of defense over your digital systems to prevent attackers from improperly accessing or stealing patient data. This includes measures like:
- Email filtering
- Employee training
- Risk assessments
- Physical security
Healthcare information is among the most valuable data for cyber attackers to sell on the black market. That means attackers have plenty of incentives to test the limits of your healthcare cybersecurity. Healthcare organizations commonly face threats like:
- Cloud breaches
- Employee misconduct
Cybersecurity is an essential part of any healthcare organization often targeted by cybercriminals. Since you store sensitive personal data like addresses, payment information, medical data, and Social Security numbers, you must invest in healthcare cybersecurity.
Why Does Healthcare Cybersecurity Matter?
The increased availability of healthcare data is a double-edged sword. Healthcare information is sensitive, and storing it in the cloud comes with inherent security risks. From patient privacy violations to HIPAA fines, there’s a lot at stake for healthcare organizations.
There’s no such thing as foolproof healthcare cybersecurity. Your business will always have risks, but with the right cybersecurity plan in place, you can mitigate those risks. And, importantly, healthcare cybersecurity is a HIPAA requirement, so you’re required to take reasonable precautions to stay compliant, anyway.
If you’re required to comply with HIPAA, healthcare cybersecurity is of paramount importance. Let’s review a few reasons why.
1. Prevent Costly Attacks
Since 2020, the average cost of remediating a healthcare breach has increased by an astounding 40%. As of 2022, the average cost of a single breach reached $10.1 million, which is higher than any other industry.
Healthcare cybersecurity helps you prevent attacks and the jaw-dropping costs that come with them. Even if you take HIPAA fines out of the equation, these breaches are a blow to your bottom line. Investing in healthcare cybersecurity can help you avoid the significant costs of recovering from a data breach.
2. Avoid Regulatory Action
HIPAA regulations already demand a lot of your attention. To make matters worse, HIPAA fines range from $100 to $50,000 per incident, which could be a huge burden on your business.
Proper healthcare cybersecurity practices can protect patient data from potential cyber attacks that often result in regulatory fines and penalties. Don’t give the OCR (Office of Civil Rights) — which enforces HIPAA rules — another reason to investigate your business: invest in healthcare cybersecurity to avoid regulatory action in the first place.
3. Protect Your Reputation
As a hospital or healthcare provider, your reputation is everything. If you experience a data breach or HIPAA violation, you can lose hard-won trust with patients and the community. Over time, the reputational damage can cost your business millions. It’s difficult to recover from a loss of trust, so invest in healthcare cybersecurity to maintain your stellar reputation.
4. Protect Your IP
Does your business invest in research and development? It isn’t unheard of for attackers to leak intellectual property obtained from an attack. For example, if you’re a pharmaceutical company developing innovative new therapies, data loss can hurt your new drug’s marketability. Fortunately, healthcare cybersecurity keeps your intellectual property under lock and key.
5. Improve Patient Safety
The most compelling reason to invest in cybersecurity is to protect your patients. If attackers manage to halt your systems or steal your patient data, this is not only a disruption to delivering care or a violation of privacy, but that stolen information can cause harm to patient safety is at risks. If patients need timely care but you’ve lost access to their medical records, the theft could delay treatment and worsen patient outcomes.
On the other hand, cybersecurity measures that prevent clinicians from sharing information with other organizations and providers can also increase risk to patient safety. Information such as a patient’s health history and current medications is crucial for clinicians to make informed treatment decisions and avoid harmful drug interactions and other consequences resulting from a lack of access to patient information. That’s why the ability to share ePHI securely is crucial for today’s healthcare providers: patient safety is paramount.
You’re in business to serve the interests of patients, which means protecting patients and their safety and privacy in every way possible. With the right healthcare cybersecurity measures, you can protect patients on all fronts, including both their physical health and their privacy.
Solutions like Tausight’s Situational ePHI Awareness Platform help to reduce risk across the healthcare continuum by providing 24/7 telemetry on both structured and unstructured PHI as it’s created, stored, copied, moved, and shared between providers, patients, applications, and third-party entities, such as health insurance providers. Gaining visibility into ePHI throughout the healthcare ecosystem is crucial for addressing the most important reason to invest in healthcare cybersecurity: patient safety.
Protect ePHI with Situational PHI Awareness
Healthcare cybersecurity is not only the right thing to do; it’s required by HIPAA. The problem is that, as a healthcare organization, you have a lot on your plate. How can you manage all the risks inherent in your business? How do you know if your ePHI is truly safe?
Solutions like Tausight bear the brunt of your cybersecurity and ePHI security efforts so you can focus on what matters most: your patients. Learn more about Tausight’s Situational ePHI Awareness today.