Sitting in my girls’ room so they can fall asleep (Lala is asleep already but G is fighting) and I have decided that I need to shop for socks.
Fascinating video on the Darn Tough company and how seriously they take making socks…gotta have some.
Until recently, healthcare providers and hospitals have implemented new technology as an afterthought—an easy mistake when the sensitive nature of the industry demands constant attention. Now, new compliance rules and cyber attacks have forced these organizations to reconsider the way data is managed and exchanged. Some third-party companies have seen the chance to move into a space with numerous opportunities. In particular, the ever-changing nature of compliance law has thrown some of the shortcomings of the industry into sharp relief. In addition, the patient engagement movement has created new reasons for healthcare organizations to invest in technology.
Patient portals have existed for some time, to the point that it’s worth it for many organizations to reevaluate whether theirs work the way they’re supposed to. Portals are intended to be a convenient way for patients to get their critical health information outside of the doctor’s office, but their implementation is flawed.
In the effort to create a personalized space for patients, portals are often seen as an extent of frustrating medical red tape—including generic instructions, unhelpful information, and difficulty of access. Additionally, they provide yet another potential attack surface that care providers must manage to prevent any sort of breach.
The solution may be to consider more mobile patient tools to allow for easy access. The fewer barriers to entry there are for patients, the more likely they are to make use of the information. Whatever the solution, there is a strong need for technology companies to step in and build these tools in a way that is compliant and user-friendly.
Less Is More
While many risk-averse healthcare organizations may balk at completely changing their infrastructure to adapt to changing times, the benefits are significant. Even beyond improved security, adopting tactics such as moving patient information into the cloud can actually help create a better environment for patients. Changing infrastructure is an opportunity to update existing apps and portals.
These tools allow for easier exchange of data, empowering patients to interact with providers without having to go into a hospital. In turn, these organizations can gather valuable data that can enhance their experience further. The modern patient wants to shop around and compare options, and easing this process can cause them to favorably view one organization over another.
Infrastructure Is King
Given the nervousness felt by many organizations at the prospect of updating decades-old systems, it’s always worth emphasizing that they don’t have to do it themselves. Making connections between healthcare organizations and IaaS companies is important—bringing in an expert is better than skimping every time. Infrastructure is important for interactions with both patients and other retailers—given the amount of other organizations that the average healthcare provider will interact with, it pays to have a system that works correctly. Digital transformation is a process, but there’s a misconception that in-house IT has to do all of the heavy lifting. In reality, finding an infrastructure plan adapted specifically to an organization is the best way to move forward.
More Than Just Security
The modern healthcare organization is starting to realize the myriad benefits of updating systems. While data security is still one of the big drives for change, the benefits to patients and providers alike cannot be overstated. It’s up to these groups to take a step forward—or run the risk of being left behind.
There’s a huge need for the cybersecurity industry to step up. Ample demand and the evolving nature of attacks has made the industry dynamic in recent years. For those that are up for the challenge, it’s a great opportunity to delve into a field that is always growing. However, no business is invulnerable to threats, and the industry needs to change in several critical ways to reach a point of maturity.
Don’t get me wrong, many businesses practice cybersecurity well. We’re seeing more and more organizations understand that ever-changing threats inherent in the industry, and that bodes well for progress. Still, a concerning amount of businesses continue to adopt a “fire and forget” approach—that is to say layering on defenses and calling it a day.
Every new system, every new update, and even every new solution creates vulnerabilities that attackers will try to exploit. The first step to building a better cybersecurity program is acknowledging that there will never be perfect countermeasures. The best a business can do is to identify key vulnerabilities unique to their organization and focus on protecting those while remaining vigilant about the possibility of an attack. Often, this means bringing in a third-party that can better monitor and upgrade systems on a business’s behalf.
Don’t Adopt Just To Adopt
While it’s true that every business—from large corporations to small businesses—should be concerned about cybersecurity, it doesn’t mean that the shotgun approach of adopting as much as possible and hoping for the best is smart.
Instead, businesses should look at cybersecurity strategically. There are a lot of great tools out there, but many require some expenditure of time and talent to be used effectively. Choosing tools should be a matter of weighing whether a team is capable of using them to monitor and detect potential threats. If they’re not being used correctly or as intended, they can often be a money sink that accomplishes very little.
Plenty of resources online give step-by-step plans for implementing cybersecurity in a business. While these articles are great starting points, they should not be the end-all-be-all of cybersecurity. More often, businesses should consider their level of risk, the amount of resources at their disposal, and potential attack surfaces when constructing a cybersecurity plan.
I’ve written a lot about security and compliance in the healthcare sphere because these organizations stand to lose more than most in an attack. There’s a lot to talk about. A smaller business will want to identify what is at risk in the event of an attack and what they could lose. Many times, it’s also about what these businesses can gain—the benefits available to them when older systems are upgraded.
In all likelihood, cybercriminals are not constantly probing the average business for weak points—but no business can afford to assume that they aren’t. Complacency is the enemy of good cybersecurity, and planning for the future is the best way to ensure that needs are being anticipated. In short, new measures should be proactive, not reactive—and it’s up to all businesses to find an ongoing solution that works for them.
The modern cybersecurity industry has been the subject of much attention in recent years as threats to businesses large and small continue to mount. Even outside of the industry, business experts have correctly concluded that more measures are necessary to counteract aging infrastructure and an increase in possible attack surfaces. The interest exists, but what doesn’t exist is enough personnel to fill the myriad jobs in cybersecurity. And this problem is only expected to get worse as time goes on, with the number of new professionals eclipsed by how much their talents are needed.
The discrepancy in cybersecurity is often blamed on the failure of universities to provide the courses necessary to train the next generation of experts. While this is a noted problem, it is only one of many. The same cybersecurity professionals who scoff at formalized education in the field are often unwilling to invest the resources into training others within their organization, instead preferring to solicit existing talent from other businesses. Though there is significant work involved when it comes to building a reliable team, the reward of cultivating new talent is preferable to poaching the old and widening the skill gap further. It’s a sacrifice, but one that must be made if the industry is to be sustainable moving forward.
The other advantage of in-house training is the integration of cybersecurity practices throughout all of a business’s processes. Too often, organizations view these tools as afterthoughts to be stapled at the end of every project. The reality here is that new systems, products, and infrastructure should be created with cybersecurity in mind. Training and apprenticeship programs provide enough personnel to adequately address anything new coming through the pipeline. This carries the added benefit of allowing new entrants in the industry to receive a hands-on experience with a variety of systems.
And, if a company doesn’t have any place to start when it comes to building in-house cybersecurity firms, a third-party organization can help. These companies can provide support for companies that don’t have the resources to train new experts and build the start of a good security culture. However, even dedicated cybersecurity organizations should be mindful of their practices when it comes to recruiting vs. fostering talent.
It’s also important to consider the kind of training that is being given to aspiring cybersecurity experts. The best way to handle cybersecurity is to start with the broad strokes—the compliance laws that it is absolutely vital that any professional knows. In many cybersecurity courses, emphasis is placed on the products that businesses can use to combat threats. This leads to experts with very specialized knowledge of a specific solution, rather than knowing many brand-agnostic solutions or the compliance standards that underpin the whole industry. Consultants should be neutral when it comes to recommending solutions and find whatever suits an organization’s needs.
The future of cybersecurity will need to be collaborative. Between academic organizations selling their programs to business organizations offering opportunities for interested professionals to learn, a lot needs to change about how new talent is cultivated. In the future, expect to see a new generation of experts that know compliance law inside and out—and that are focused on spreading their best practices to others.