Hospitals can be a gold mine for cybercriminals. Each day, bad actors wage thousands of attacks against organizations that have huge stores of patient data and, oftentimes, limited resources for fighting back. With the growing number of connected devices in hospitals and the rising value of medical records on the black market, these attacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated. Data breaches not only cost hospitals time, money and operational downtime, but they can also threaten lives.
With the cybersecurity stakes getting higher for hospitals, healthcare leaders must up their game if they want to protect patients and preserve the integrity of their organization. In many hospitals, these responsibilities fall to the compliance officer and IT director. They are the ones with the knowledge and expertise to strengthen data security, manage privacy procedures and keep hackers at bay. Sometimes, departments may work in silos, which can make efforts disjointed and ineffective against organized cyberattacks.
What can your hospital do to improve engagement to ensure teams communicate effectively and work together? Here are three strategies that may help:
1. Encourage more transparency. Communicate regularly about potential or emerging threats. Share intel with other stakeholders involved in securing the hospital’s network, including clinicians, vendors, suppliers and contractors. IT teams must be able to translate the technical details of security and privacy risks into language that can be easily understood, so organizations can efficiently communicate these to other department leaders throughout the hospital. Also, agree on objectives, from boosting security at network access points to improving cybersecurity training for staff, while also setting metrics for evaluating the success of these initiatives.
2. Give teams a sense of ownership. Cybersecurity shouldn’t be perceived as the domain of one group over another. It’s the responsibility of everyone and should be treated as such. To forge an effective strategy for defending against cyberattacks, teams must be able to cooperate and coordinate with each other, administration, clinicians and supply chain to create a culture of continuous compliance. This includes performing regular audits to identify security gaps and their severity, scanning for dubious activity that might indicate an intrusion, tracking and securing new access points in hospital networks, updating patches and processes, and implementing effective controls and rapid-response mechanisms to expedite action when a breach occurs.
3. Involve the whole enterprise. With insider attacks responsible for an alarming percentage of data breaches in hospitals, it’s vital to ensure everyone in the organization is on the same page and practicing good habits for protecting patient data and billing information. Team up with representatives throughout the hospital to keep them updated on impending threats, give them tips on how to recognize them and offer best practices for diffusing them. In turn, these cybersecurity champions can spread this awareness to their teams and develop ongoing programs to educate employees on the appropriate use of networks and computers, including how they should react in the event of a cyberattack.