Importance of Data Security in Healthcare


Hacking, cyberattacks, and data breaches are key concerns for healthcare leaders and are definitely growing problems in the healthcare sector. A recent report shows that data breaches increased in 2018, with more than 500 incidents affecting almost 15 million patient records, compared to 450 breaches affecting 5.6 million records in 2017. Hackers are getting more sophisticated but are hospitals and healthcare facilities increasing vigilance of their cybersecurity and IT practices when communicating within? Healthcare data security for protecting patient data is about more than just regulatory compliance. It has to help healthcare organizations maintain patient confidentiality, focus on patients and is imperative in sustaining customer trust.  

Medical Data Breach is Irreversible

As anyone who has gone through financial data theft can attest, it can be a very frustrating, time-consuming and costly problem to correct. Credit cards have to be changed, false charges have to be appealed and corrected, the checks need to be blocked. But unlike financial data, medical data cannot be corrected. It cannot be changed nor wiped clean – once the information is breached, the damage is permanent. Identity theft, extortion, insurance fraud are some of the possibilities after a healthcare data breach, especially when one considers the medical information of high profile individuals like CEOs, public figures, celebrities and others who are key targets for hackers on the black market. Data security in healthcare organizations has become a major concern for this reason.

How Medical Data Breach Affects the Healthcare Sector

For hospitals and healthcare facilities, a data breach can be financially devastating in the long run as well. Service delays and potential HIPAA fines hurt upfront, but the loss of customer confidence can drive away patients and will mean lost revenue for years ahead. Overcoming a serious data breach calls for extensive trust and image rebuilding in any community, usually in the form of massively expensive PR campaigns. For these reasons, most hospitals and healthcare organizations understand the significant risks involved in handling patient health information and the importance of data security. A recent HIMSS survey shows that privacy, cybersecurity, and general security are top concerns in healthcare.

See also Launches Patient/Family Messaging Easing COVID-19

Unfortunately, mere concerns about data security do not lead to actions. Despite the awareness of data security, a 2018 Black Book Market Research survey shows that less than 16% of organizations have a chief information security officer. Given the large quantityof private information hospitals and healthcare facilities have access to, high employee turnover rates, and the absence of IT leadership, this only adds to the f challenges healthcare organizations face when implementing data security measures. Many of these are driven by a large number of systems or software vendors that every healthcare organizationuses to organize care and administer their business.

Most EMRs and Healthcare Interfaces Are Not Built To Share Data Securely

The sheer number of different IT systems used in healthcare is probably unparalleled in any other industry. Every system, vendor, connection, and employee with access and duty for transferring sensitive data poses a cybersecurity risk. That is because EMRs and other healthcare interfaces are not built to share data. They were built as a fortress to protect the data of patients and to ensure that data is easily available only within the walls of that system. This ‘walled fortress’ approach to security no longer works. Data cannot be kept within the physical facility since many healthcare professionals now use their personal phones and devices to communicate, manage work and share data.

The data has to be exchanged seamlessly and securely so that healthcare organizations provide better care to patients. This can only be accomplished through technology. But technology partners offering such solutions should be scrutinized to mitigate risks. Execution of data protection strategies and vetting technology vendors thoroughly should enable healthcare organizations to meet legal regulations and share critical patient data more securely.

See also launches intelligent messaging integration with PointClickCare to Enhance Communication in Post-Acute Care

To limit risk and improve overall IT security strategy, healthcare faculties must perform a security assessment of the technology partners they currently use to understand the risks they pose. Each new vendor/partner selection process must weigh security concerns heavily in the evaluation criteria. But what happens when the healthcare facilities conduct a security assessment and conclude that a vendor is not up to the mark? They have two options left:

  1. Put pressure on the company to improve its security
  2. Switch vendors

Neither is an easy task. Contract cancellation fees, time spent in evaluating new solutions, resources spent on training employees from scratch on new software – it all adds up. Also, what is the incentive for current vendors to improve their security practices if only 15% of their customer base needs those updates? As mentioned earlier, switching vendors can be costly which leads to many healthcare facilities staying with current weak security systems. 

Healthcare communication app

How Healthcare-Specific Communication App Like Hucu Can Help

There is a solution of course. Healthcare facilities need to adopt healthcare-specific vendors and security systems to reduce risk. When new regulations come out, new medical devices emerge or new threats develop – healthcare organizations need technology partners that understand their industry-specific needs. Healthcare-only technology partners like understand the unique challenges facing the industry and are better positioned to address an organization’s data security challenges and needs. addresses common bottlenecks when it comes to communication and data security in healthcare organizations. helps healthcare professionals and staff members to securely communicate and share patient information with each other using a simple tool. The staff members can share critical patient information and communicate with each other through one on one direct messages, or specific channels developed for certain discussion topics, as well as through patient-centered messages with the entire care team in one place. Since the app is HIPAA compliant, it offers maximum data security where the healthcare teams have to use their personal phones and devices to communicate with each other within the facility. Hucu is a stepping stone in building a secure platform of communication and collaboration for healthcare in this digital age.

Get Ready To Transform Your Organization For
Value Based Care.

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter