According to a report posted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, 87 percent of office-based physicians had adopted some form of electronic health record (EHR) as of 2015. This is more than double the 42 percent that had done so when data was collected in 2008.
Along with an increase in EHR adoption, we have also witnessed a global healthcare revolution in data collection and research. Access to such data improves the care and quality of life of those individuals these institutions serve. The challenge is that healthcare institutions have consolidated this vital and sensitive patient data onto networks that are in dire need of protection.
Because more sensitive information is being digitally transmitted and accessed than ever before, it is imperative that healthcare providers also move towards an integrated security solution that provides value and protection for both the institution and the patients. Let’s examine the potential benefits of more secure healthcare networks via integrated security solutions.
Improve the Doctor-Patient Relationship
The sensitivity of medical data requires a trustworthy flow of information in the patient-doctor relationship. If patients can’t trust their healthcare facility to store their personal information securely, they are less likely to offer it willingly. Unfortunately, withholding this information limits the physicians’ ability to deliver excellent care. Similarly, the reputations of institutions suffer as the viability of their networks is put into question.
However, healthcare institutions have been able to improve EHRs and operational efficiency as a direct result of real-time data collection. Patients experience benefits from this because they are able to get more precise care in a timely fashion. Similarly, medical professionals have access to extensive medical data that can lead to groundbreaking discoveries. With a fully integrated security solution in place, IT teams at healthcare institutions are able to provide real-time oversight of that network, allowing them to protect and secure these advances in patient care, without interrupting the workflow of the medical professionals who work to serve this community.
Simplify Security Management
When new security devices are added to the security stack, institutions gain enhanced security capabilities. However, these additional security devices oftentimes also mean more time spent managing an increasingly complex ecosystem. Operating and maintaining a solution with personnel and other resources stretched thin, while keeping new devices up to speed, can become a financial and logistical burden.
By implementing a fully integrated security strategy, healthcare institutions gain the ability to simplify and solidify their security posture. They can manage the systems that are already in place, ensuring their investments are maximized. Pinpointing threats across the attack surface also becomes a methodical and inclusive process, eliminating hours of manually examining data that individual, isolated security devices produce.
Healthcare institutions can benefit immensely from reducing operational complexity, especially when it comes to security. Simplifying this aspect of operations enhances visibility, improving the chances of seeing and stopping an attack targeting the system, while simultaneously protecting the relationships that patients have developed with their healthcare institution and providers.
Enhanced Protection of Valuable Patient Data
Ultimately, patients are consumers. If there’s distrust in the relationship between them and their preferred healthcare institution, they will not hesitate to look elsewhere. It’s no secret that patient data is at a premium, so in order to maintain the viability of the organization, the responsibility of protecting this data and maintaining a high level of trust with patients falls on the institution.
Medical data is much more valuable than financial data. This information does not change; it sticks with an individual for life. Once it’s out in the public domain, it’s out forever. Providing patients with a guarantee that their medical data is secure can be done with confidence when there’s an integrated security solution in place to back up the claim.
Employing an integrated security solution that can defend against a variety of attacks also allows healthcare institutions to operate without restrictions inside their own network, streamlining processes, ensuring medical and administrative staff have immediate access to the data they require, and providing timely results and services for the patients they are committed to caring for.
Rising to the Challenge
There is a demand for healthcare institutions to provide patient care that is both convenient and secure. At the same time, the sensitive data that their networks protect is highly sought after by criminal elements. An increasing reliance on collecting and processing patient data, combined with a pattern of serious data breaches, has placed the industry as a whole under a microscope.
A centralized management and orchestration system that makes it easier to protect patient data will help healthcare organizations secure their clients’ critical, sensitive data. A solution like this improves performance and efficiency through elements such as application prioritization and traffic optimization, combined with both network-wide and device-level security to enable and protect new care delivery models.
About the author:
Susan Biddle is the Sr. Director of Healthcare at Fortinet. She is a high technology and healthcare marketing executive with over 15 years’ experience driving new solutions from concept to market, managing diverse cross-functional teams and developing highly-effective marketing programs. Biddle is a results-oriented professional with expertise in strategic planning, market segmentation and research methodologies. She has a strong background in product & solutions marketing, demand generation and key IT infrastructure solution areas for the health and life sciences industry, such as translational research, digital health and connected care.