Seven Important Actions to Manage Cyber Risk While Benefiting from AI

By Jon Moore, MS, JD, HCISPP, Chief Risk Officer and Head of Consulting Services and Client Success, Clearwater
LinkedIn: Jon Moore, MS, JD, HCISPP
LinkedIn: Clearwater

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing healthcare with transformative benefits like enhanced diagnostic accuracy, streamlined administrative tasks, and predictive analytics for preventive care. Unfortunately, AI’s integration into healthcare organizations and their systems also brings significant cyber risks and ethical challenges. Healthcare organizations must navigate potential algorithm biases, ethical decision-making dilemmas, and increased cyber vulnerabilities. To maximize AI’s benefits while protecting patient data and organizational integrity, healthcare IT executives must adopt a strategic, proactive approach. Consider these seven crucial actions to effectively manage AI-related cyber risks and ensure secure, efficient AI adoption in healthcare.

Action 1: Implement a Robust AI Governance Program

A robust AI governance program is essential for managing AI-related risks. Establish an oversight group at the board or executive level to enforce clear policies for AI development, deployment, and use. Policy scope should include acceptable use, data flow and collection, storage, access, and sharing guidelines specific to AI applications. Maintain a current inventory of systems that include AI functionality. Ensure data integrity and quality by assigning data stewards and forming AI governance committees. Emphasize data security and privacy by design, particularly for AI systems handling sensitive patient information. Regularly review and update governance policies to adapt to new AI developments and emerging risks.

Action 2: Develop a Comprehensive AI Strategy

Developing a strategic roadmap for AI implementation ensures alignment with organizational goals. This strategy should balance innovation with risk management, incorporating ongoing evaluation and adjustment. A well-defined AI strategy helps set clear objectives, allocate resources effectively, and manage expectations. Include specific milestones, key performance indicators (KPIs), and a mechanism for continuous improvement in your AI strategy.

Action 3: Ensure Compliance with Regulatory Requirements

Healthcare organizations must navigate complex regulatory landscapes, including HIPAA, GDPR, and state privacy and security regulations. Establish robust compliance frameworks to ensure that AI solutions adhere to these regulations. Regular audits and updates are necessary to keep pace with evolving legal requirements and safeguard patient data and organizational reputation. Consider integrating automated compliance tools to streamline monitoring and reporting processes.

Action 4: Implement Baseline Cybersecurity Safeguards

Protecting AI systems from cyber threats requires a multi-layered security approach. Implement foundational or baseline controls such as encryption, access controls, and network security measures. Continuous monitoring is critical to identifying and mitigating potential threats, and incident response and recovery planning are essential in minimizing the impact when an incident occurs. Regular cybersecurity assessments and application penetration testing can uncover vulnerabilities before threat actors exploit them.

Action 5: Conduct Comprehensive Ongoing Risk Management

Thorough risk analysis is vital for identifying potential AI-related risks despite baseline security controls. Evaluate data privacy and security concerns at organization, system, and component levels. Consider all reasonably anticipated threats and vulnerabilities, the safeguards in place, the likelihood of a threat acting on a vulnerability, and the impact on the organization if that were to occur. Involve multidisciplinary teams in the risk assessment process to ensure comprehensive risk identification. Make informed decisions on treating risks that exceed the organization’s tolerance threshold and develop risk response plans for risks the organization determines to mitigate. Conduct these risk management activities on an ongoing basis to identify new threats, vulnerabilities, and changes in the organization’s environment.

Action 6: Foster a Culture of Security and Compliance

Creating a culture of security and compliance involves training and awareness programs for staff on AI-related risks and best practices. Encourage a proactive approach to risk identification and mitigation. Leadership should actively promote and model a culture of security and compliance to ensure its adoption throughout the organization. Use a carrots-and-sticks approach, rewarding employees who demonstrate a strong commitment to security practices and sanctioning those who don’t.

Action 7: Collaborate with Trusted AI and Cybersecurity Partners

Partnering with reputable vendors and consultants enhances AI and cybersecurity efforts. Select partners based on their track record and expertise with AI and healthcare. Establish clear communication channels and regular check-ins with partners to ensure alignment and address emerging risks promptly.


By implementing these seven actions, healthcare organizations can harness the benefits of AI while effectively managing associated risks. A balanced innovation and risk management approach is essential for sustainable AI adoption. Healthcare IT executives are encouraged to take proactive steps to integrate these practices, ensuring a secure and compliant AI-enabled future. Staying on top of advancements in AI and cybersecurity is crucial.

Healthcare IT executives should explore AI opportunities and risk management strategies further. For additional support, consider reaching out to industry experts and leveraging available resources to stay informed and prepared for the evolving landscape of AI in healthcare.