Like many industries, healthcare has gone through a digital revolution in the past few years. This mass digitization has improved medicine on several fronts, but it’s also brought new risks. As the industry increases its reliance on digital systems, cybersecurity in hospitals becomes all the more urgent.
Healthcare is one of the most-targeted industries for cybercrime. The sector experienced 525 data breaches in 2019, more than a third of total incidents that year. The state of healthcare security is troubling, especially considering the potential consequences of a cyberattack on a hospital.
Better cybersecurity can produce various tangible benefits for hospitals. Here are five of the most significant:
1. Reduced Risk of Medical Errors
Electronic healthcare records (EHRs) are one of the most beneficial aspects of digitization in medicine. As of 2017, 96% of hospitals had adopted certified EHRs, but without reliable cybersecurity, this can be a risk. If a cyberattack compromised these records, it could affect doctors’ access to critical patient data.
Without fast and reliable access to EHRs, the likelihood of medical errors would rise. Doctors and nurses could accidentally administer an ineffective or even harmful treatment since they don’t have a complete picture of patient data. Better cybersecurity would secure EHRs and prevent these errors.
2. Improved Patient Privacy Protection
Medical professionals have to adhere to strict privacy regulations when dealing with patient records. If a cybercriminal hacked into a hospital and accessed these, it could have disastrous results. It could expose valuable data like insurance information and addresses, and hospitals could face legal trouble.
Given their obligation to patient privacy, hospitals need to ensure the security of digital records. Many institutions likely have tools like antimalware, but they need further protection. With more robust cybersecurity, hospitals can assure patients that their information will remain private.
3. Safer Technology Adoption
Since cybercrime is such a major threat to hospitals, some may be timid about adopting new technology. Institutions may be hesitant to implement useful tech out of fear of increasing their vulnerabilities. If cybersecurity in hospitals was more reliable, the industry could see faster, safer technology adoption.
If hospitals didn’t have to worry about endpoint security, they could reap significant benefits from new tech. Hospitals consume as much as 194 trillion British Thermal Units (BTU) of electricity, highlighting the need for newer, more energy-efficient devices. Internet of Things (IoT) technologies could help medical institutions address these concerns, but these facilities need cybersecurity first.
4. Faster Patient Care
Better healthcare security would ensure safer, more private treatment, but it would also make it faster. When working correctly, EHRs allow doctors to start treatment sooner, but disruptions can produce the opposite effect. A troubling 72% of healthcare providers have experienced delayed or interrupted work because of network issues.
Even a minor cyberattack can slow down a hospital’s network. Hospitals need reliable and fast-working cybersecurity tools to ensure their EHR systems work as they should. With patient treatment on the line, it could be a matter of life and death.
5. Safer Operation of Medical Devices
The medical industry is seeing an uptick in the adoption of connected technology. This interconnectivity can enable fast and efficient operations, but more endpoints translate to more risk. If hospitals are to use these new medical devices safely, they need to ensure their security.
In January, the FDA found six vulnerabilities in medical devices that could allow hackers to affect their functionality. If a hacker disables a machine or causes it to malfunction, it could endanger patients’ lives. Digital healthcare security needs to improve to prevent these risks.
Cybersecurity Is Crucial for the Medical Industry
The healthcare sector deals with too many sensitive records for it to ignore the importance of cybersecurity. As the industry becomes increasingly reliant on digitization, these concerns only become more urgent. Cybersecurity in hospitals needs to improve for the good of both medical professionals and patients.
The security tools that hospitals need are already available. With a renewed focus on cybersecurity, the industry could achieve the levels of safety, privacy and efficiency it requires.