Data Breaches in Healthcare

The High Cost of Data Breaches in Healthcare: Why Prevention is Critical 

Data breaches may result in severe consequences for both the healthcare institution under assault and the individual victims. Entities in the public health and healthcare sectors face the costs of lawsuits, recovery, and public relations repercussions, including patient/customer loss. For both operational and legal efficiency factors, businesses in the healthcare sector are encouraged to integrate the cost of breaches into their entire approach toward risk management. 

Individuals may face numerous financial fines in addition to the awkwardness of having personal information released. As a result, the national government has passed various pieces of legislation to assist in defending against and minimizing data breaches, including restrictions and fines for non-compliant healthcare firms. Costs might be direct or indirect, and mitigation actions can be classified as either prevention or post-breach cost reduction.

Why Do Healthcare Data Breaches Cost So Much More Compared To Other Sectors? 

The exorbitant expenses are most likely the result of healthcare data being highly regulated in nature. However, recent surveys also revealed that breaches cost more for organizations that do not have zero-trust practices. Healthcare’s issues with zero trust, like those of other vital infrastructure companies, may explain the exorbitant expenses. 

In particular, breaches in the connected pharmaceutical sector were the third-most costly in recent years. Furthermore, companies that experience events in highly regulated areas such as healthcare and pharmaceutical frequently see their initial cost estimates climb in the years after the breach. 

Organizations with established cloud security infrastructures had reduced data breach expenses, whereas those in the early stages had greater issues. According to recent studies, organizations using hybrid computing models were capable of containing breaches substantially faster than those using public or private cloud models.

How Do We Prevent Such Breaches?

Fortunately, there are many ways to steer clear of such serious repercussions. It is significantly less expensive to invest time and resources in best practices to avoid data breaches in healthcare than dealing with the consequences of the breach. Below are a couple of practical steps the healthcare sector can take to prevent such data breaches.

Assess the Current State of Your Information Technology Infrastructure 

The first step is to assess your present level of security. Scan your system to determine what could go wrong. Since cybersecurity measures get outdated quickly nowadays, the audit should be undertaken at least once every six months.

Make Use Of Wireless Subnetworks 

You can segment your wireless network (also known as Wi-Fi) into many subnetworks. As a result, your hospital visitors can utilize one subnetwork whilst your staff uses another, with private patient information never entering the public one. You can even make one specifically for medical gadgets. 

Modernize Obsolete IT Infrastructure

Since old technology, systems, and gadgets tend to be discontinued by manufacturers, healthcare organizations tend to ignore security system upgrades. Even if the manufacturer continues to provide support, it is doubtful that the gadget will be able to handle the new threats. As a result, a strong answer to data breaches related to healthcare is to discontinue the use of outdated technology for the purpose of breach prevention.

Encrypt Your Data 

Data encryption indicates that the system will convert it into incomprehensible code, and you can only restore it if you have access to a decryption key. Encrypted data remains secure, and using encryption will not result in any loss of data. This method is proven to be the most effective way to store information in any database securely.

Regularly Upgrade Your Software 

Every software upgrade includes new security updates or tools for identifying and eradicating emerging forms of malware. If you neglect to update the software, you remain susceptible to a security flaw in the software that hackers can exploit, and your system will be vulnerable to new infections. Even if upgrading everything is a tedious and monotonous chore, it must be conducted regularly.

Plan Out Data Retention 

You have no reason to keep medical records in digital databases indefinitely. When a breach occurs, far greater amounts of sensitive information are likely to get compromised, and the organization might face greater fines. Your databases are going to become full as well. So make a plan for what information to keep, how long to keep it, where to keep it, and how to dispose of it. 

Choose Your Business Partners Wisely 

You could have the most secure digital environment ever and routinely upgrade your systems. Still, it could all be for naught if you exchange data with third parties such as pharmacies or billing and they fail to comply with security requirements. Ensure that your partners observe security regulations such as GDPR or HIPAA, handle data appropriately, and do not give everyone access. When drafting a contract, specify your organization will be the exclusive owner of the information so that it is not shared with any third parties. 

Have A Response Plan Ready 

According to several cybersecurity experts, the question is not whether a data breach will occur but rather when. Plus, it is challenging to keep up with all of the emerging threats and attacks. As a result, you must strive to prevent security breaches in healthcare and recover from them. While developing your healthcare organization risk management plan, ensure that you can identify potential threats, shut down systems immediately in the event of an intrusion, remove damaged files, and save any records and specifics of the breach.

Conclusion: Bottom Line 

The intricacy of infrastructure and the vulnerability of how data is used have negative consequences, with instances of compromised records ranging from hundreds to millions at a time. The more documents lost in a breach, the more expensive it will be, with both short and long-term consequences such as lawsuits, regulatory fines, and damage to reputation. 

In the case of healthcare, the situation gets exacerbated by a greater per-record cost. In the event of a data breach, you ought to initiate appointments with the legal team, establish an incident communication strategy with the general public, and prepare a recovery strategy.

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