Six SaaS Data Protection Challenges for the Healthcare Industry

Julia Salem
Senior Content Marketing Manager
March 8, 2018

The healthcare industry has evolved by adopting electronic health records (EHRs) as a standard tool. This data is no longer being used solely to support operations, but also to push academic research, life science research, and medical discoveries. Data protection challenges vary in complexity. The industry faces some issues that can be fixed immediately, while others may take years to resolve.

1) Downtime Can Be Deadly

As healthcare organizations become more dependent on data, automation, and interconnected systems, it is critical for data to be available 24/7. When a healthcare company’s data is unavailable, the outcome could be fatal. This is especially true for healthcare providers who rely on patient data to diagnose illnesses and prescribe medications.

2) Patients Expect a Personalized Experience

Patients expect 24/7 availability, personalization, and secure access to their information, including telemedicine, EHR, scheduling, patient portal, device, IT support, ePrescribing, and RCM solutions. They are now open to email, text, and web portals as ways to review their health information. Patient portals, which are accessible over public Internet can be difficult to secure. 

3) Valuable Patient Data Demands Extra Protection

Worth ten times more than credit card information, data thieves are highly-motivated to steal and then sell Patient Health Information (PHI). Data thieves are stealing names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnosis codes, and billing information to create fake IDs to buy and resell medical equipment and drugs or to commit insurance fraud.

Threats from outdated software and tools, impostor APIs, single-sign-on hacking, and other IT security threats plague the healthcare industry daily. In the United Kingdom, 200 National Health Service (NHS) trusts failed cybersecurity assessments, according to NHS Digital Deputy CEO, Rob Shaw. In response, the UK government has re-prioritized £21 million towards cyber preparedness, a further £25 million of capital funding for 2017-18 financial year, and £150 million additional for cybersecurity.

4) Tight Budgets Constrain Data Management and Security Initiatives

The healthcare industry is facing significant pressure to reduce costs while maintaining the highest standards of care. A key priority for CIOs is to reduce administrative costs, including hardware and device overhead, scheduling, payer relations management, admissions, discharges, transfers, facility management. Digital optimization through SaaS platforms and artificial intelligence can reduce administrative costs and increase revenue opportunities by reducing medical errors, improving diagnostic accuracy and outcomes, and streamlining operations.

5) Legacy Medical Devices Increase Risks

Devices that were not meant to be Internet-accessible are now being connected to the Internet. Regulations around medical device security are ambiguous about the exact practices providers and medical device manufacturers should follow to ensure medical device security. This means it is up to healthcare security and risk management leaders to assess each connected device and decide when it needs to be upgraded, replaced, or removed. This specific challenge is going to intensify as the Internet of Things (IoT) expands. 

6) Hidden IT Security Gaps Can Cause Major Problems

Smaller healthcare companies, such as private practices, and larger companies, such as providers, manufactures, and large payers, often share information between each other to manage patient care. These entities continue to benefit from staying interconnected, but this interconnectivity can cause cybersecurity holes for an otherwise secure organization. Use of unsecured local services and databases is not uncommon in small and medium-sized healthcare providers.

While the solutions to address cybersecurity issues impact companies across the industry, it may be prudent for larger organizations to require smaller companies in their networks to make data protection and security a higher priority by moving to a secure, cloud environment. In fact, the Healthcare Industry Cybersecurity Task Force recommends that small and medium-sized healthcare providers “evaluate options to migrate patient records and legacy systems to secure environments (e.g., hosted, cloud, shared computer environments).”


Do these challenges resonate with your organization? Download OwnBackup’s Navigating SaaS Healthcare Data Protection and Regulatory Demands eBook to learn strategies that you can implement to better secure company SaaS data and stay in compliance with industry regulations.

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