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Managed IT Services for Healthcare: Your Data Breach Shield

Christo IT Managed IT Services for Healthcare Your Data Breach Shield

Data breaches are becoming more common—and more costly—across every industry, but none more so than the healthcare industry. While the cost of an average data breach in 2023 is around $4.45 million, the average cost for a healthcare data breach is more than double that at $10.93 million. Notably, this is a 53.3 percent rise in cost over the past three years, marking the thirteenth year in a row that these figures have increased. Managed IT services for healthcare professionals are an essential, proactive step to protect against these breaches.

The price tag alone is enough to prioritize strong cybersecurity protocols—but when factoring in the sensitive nature of patient data, organizations that handle healthcare-related data must take heed. Any company that handles patient data, including those in the healthcare industry as well as any HIPAA-compliant players across other industries including the financial and legal sectors, must understand these threats and take appropriate action to prevent a breach.

Here is a look at why healthcare data is at risk, what steps you can take to prevent a breach, and how healthcare IT managed services can help.

Why Is Healthcare Data Under Attack?

Any kind of personally identifiable information is indeed appealing to hackers and cyber criminals—but healthcare data is even more irresistible. This is because healthcare organizations, medical providers, and any partner entities that store health-related data store all kinds of valuable patient information. Some larger healthcare systems may have millions of patient records stored in their infrastructure, including things like:

  • Patient demographics

  • Social Security numbers

  • Financial and billing information

  • Current and former addresses

  • Health insurance details

  • Medical records and clinical data

  • Other Personal Health Information (PHI)

  • And other Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

The reason this kind of data is so attractive to bad actors is that it can easily be monetized—either through ransomware or other extortion techniques, or through selling the information to other cyber criminals. In fact, customer and employee PII are the top two types of stolen data—and many of the details included in healthcare data can easily be used to steal a person’s identity. For this reason, personal data is an extremely valuable target during any kind of healthcare data breach—and is also why steps must be taken to prevent it.

This is all part of HIPAA’s compliance regulations. There are many stipulations to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), but essentially, healthcare providers at every level—as well as financial institutions, accountants, and legal firms that handle patient data—must take every reasonable precaution to keep patient information secure.

Steps You Can Take To Prevent a Healthcare Data Breach

prevent a data breach with managed IT services for healthcare

Those that handle sensitive healthcare data are a prime target for cyber attacks and breaches—which means they require extra care in strengthening their cybersecurity strategies. However, there are ways to ward off bad actors and help prevent these breaches from happening. If you handle PHI or other sensitive healthcare-related data, or if your business falls within the bounds of organizations that must adhere to HIPAA’s compliance regulations, here’s what you can do.

Perform an Annual Risk Analysis

Just like an annual physical, your IT infrastructure also needs a routine checkup. At a minimum, this should include a yearly HIPAA security risk analysis of the physical and technical safeguards you have in place. This will identify potential vulnerabilities in your network and systems as well as systems you no longer need, misconfigurations in access control, and more. 

Stay Current with All Updates

When software providers and developers spot vulnerabilities in their technologies, they release security patches and other updates to their operating systems to resolve these issues. These can help keep bad actors out—but only if you stay current with regular patches and updates.

Train Your Team to Ward Off Attacks

More than 18 percent of healthcare-related data breaches logged by the Department of Health and Human Services can be traced back to phishing attacks and malware or ransomware stemming from a phishing email. Empowering your team with the tools to spot these phishing attempts and take other precautions like writing strong passwords and limiting the use of personal devices within the network can be an important tool in preventing data breaches.

Implement Access Control

Chances are, not everyone on your team needs access to every single patient file or piece of healthcare-related data. By siloing this information and restricting access only to those who need it, there are fewer pathways for bad actors to obtain sensitive or HIPAA-protected data.

Implement a Guest Network

No one outside of your organization should have access to your network, as it could open the door for savvy cybercriminals to do real damage to your organization, access restricted data, or even hack their way into IoT medical devices as it did here—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times that partners, patients, or clients may need WiFi access. For these guests, you should create a guest network to keep unauthorized user activity separate from internal operations.

Reexamine Any BYOD Policies

In the age of remote work, an increasing number of people want the capability to work from anywhere, or take work home with them on their own devices like smartphones, laptops, and tablets. But Bring-Your-Own-Device policies may introduce malware into your network via an unsecured or compromised personal device. You should consider smart solutions to questions like:

  • Can employees bring company devices home?

  • Will team members be able to connect personal devices to the internal network?

  • What safety measures should you take to protect third-party software, internal infrastructure, and network devices—including all connected medical devices?

Employ Managed IT Services for Healthcare

One of the most important ways you can shield your practice or organization from healthcare-related data breaches is to get the support of a qualified professional. After all, there are only so many billable hours in a day. 

Healthcare IT can be indispensable in securing patient data from unauthorized users. But managing your entire IT infrastructure, maintaining a robust, HIPAA-compliant data security strategy in an increasingly risky cybersecurity climate, and also taking care of your day-to-day operations can quickly become overwhelming. 

Outsourcing your IT and cybersecurity management to an experienced healthcare IT managed services team allows you to manage and secure patient data without sacrificing patient care or client services—all without breaking the bank or hiring additional full-time staff. Managed IT services for healthcare can include essential strategies and HIPAA-mandated regulations like:

Christo IT: Your Partner in Healthcare-Related Data Security

Preventing a healthcare-related data breach can be challenging if you try to go it alone—that’s why managed IT services for healthcare are so important. 

At Christo IT, our engineers all have years of experience serving those in the medical sector as well as the professionals who must meet HIPAA compliance regulations because they handle sensitive patient data. In this time, we’ve become well-versed in the intricacies of IT for the healthcare sector and its partners.  

Time is in limited supply—and because of the sensitive nature of the data you manage, your IT and cybersecurity needs aren’t like any other. We’ll help you maintain compliance and fortify your security strategies to safeguard your data with quick resolutions, expert advice, and smart solutions. Ready to learn more? Connect with our team of experts today!

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