4 Ways to Mitigate Breaches and Security Crises in Healthcare

Matt Betts, Director, Provider Client Services, Sagility
LinkedIn: Matthew Betts

Carlos Estrada, CISO, Sagility
LinkedIn: Carlos Estrada, M.S.
LinkedIn: Sagility

While today’s healthcare payers and providers are increasingly turning to tech enablement to drive efficiency and reduce labor costs, there are conflicting pressures and demands. Complex regulations challenge business as usual, with an ever-higher bar for improved member-patient experience to compete in the marketplace—all in the face of shrinking operating margins. Add to these everyday struggles an emerging threat: a debilitating assault by cybercriminals that can force software providers offline and disrupt automation, impacting insurance verification, prior authorization, and billing, in an instant.

After a record 133 million health records were exposed to data breaches in 2023, there’s little relief in sight, judging by the first few months of 2024. Healthcare organization CEOs require a cyberattack action plan to ensure cash flow and patient satisfaction are not impacted. Where do they go for help with ransomware recovery?

In this age of ransomware attacks and data breaches, organizations are turning to the experts in change management: healthcare services partners that have relevant experience with volatile contact volumes and strategies to best support these consumers. When evaluating a solutions partner, focus on these four areas to adequately assess a competitive edge:

Scale and Access to Resources: Today’s healthcare service partners have the systems, platforms, and solutions integrated across critical and strategically located access to talented resources. When challenged by a significant network interruption resulting from a breach, these resources can be quickly deployed to address the influx of real-time work. With the right train-the-trainer approach, these proven resources are not taxed during a ramp up.

Agility and Ability to Reallocate Staff: Resources in the right locations aren’t enough—they must bring the right skills. Healthcare services experts answer to right-fit staffing with cross training in multiple areas—for universal skillset understanding and deployment. The right healthcare services partner typically has a capability set that expands across numerous lines of business (LOBs) and functional areas within payer and provider organizations. An understanding of upstream and downstream impacts will also assist with driving efficiencies and cost saving opportunities.

Effective IT Infrastructure Enablement and Support: Security posture is the overall defensive strength of an enterprise’s IT infrastructure, which comprises hardware, software, practices, policies, and personnel. A strong security posture is an investment in a healthcare organization’s future. It protects valuable assets, mitigates financial risks, and builds trust with customers and partners. In a world where cyber threats are constantly evolving, it’s no longer optional – it’s a necessity.

The right service partner will proactively and continuously enhance their security posture by conducting a security posture assessment. Ongoing risk assessments can evolve into a security posture assessment, which is a comprehensive evaluation of an organization’s security controls and defenses to identify vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and risks. It’s like taking a snapshot of an organization’s security at a specific point in time to see how strong it is against cyberattacks.

Here are some aspects that a security posture assessment typically examines:

  • Security controls: This includes firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and anti-virus software. The assessment will look at how well these controls are configured and whether they are working to prevent attacks.
  • Security policies and procedures: This includes password policy, incident response plan, and data security policy. The assessment will evaluate whether these policies are up-to-date and whether they are being followed by employees.
  • Vulnerability management: This involves identifying and patching vulnerabilities in systems. The assessment will look at how organizations are scanning for vulnerabilities and how quickly they are patched.
  • Security awareness and training: This involves educating employees about cybersecurity best practices. The assessment will gauge what kind of training an organization is providing employees and how effective it is.

Familiarity as a True Partner: Finally, longstanding partners have an added edge: firsthand familiarity with their provider client organizations’ systems and processes. A strong partner is in-step with their client’s team, culture, and priorities. Their leadership, operational, and technology teams all stand at the ready to be immediately available to help build and deploy alternative solutions.

In this age of vulnerabilities like data breaches, healthcare organizations can bolster defenses by leaning on partners that have relevant experience with volatile contact volumes. Today’s skilled healthcare services experts bring end-to-end lifecycle experience to help clients minimize the impact of a cyberattack. Those experts with a 360-degree view of the healthcare ecosystem and both provider and payer expertise are also uniquely suited to bring all stakeholders together as a digital community – not just in a crisis but in good times, as well – to share holistic consumer insights to drive better care quality and operational outcomes.