How Can Analytics Boost Healthcare Data Security?

With modern technologies now more accessible, the healthcare sector is continually shifting to more digitized methods. The World Economic Forum states that 64% of healthcare leaders invest in digital health technology, with 19% prioritizing AI software. These technologies are useful in expediting operations within the healthcare sector. However, it’s worth noting that they can also benefit healthcare cybersecurity — in particular, analytics as a means of heightening data security.

Concerns Surrounding Healthcare Data Security: What You Should Know

Healthcare institutions hold thousands of patient records, each containing sensitive data like patients’ medical records and payment details. When hackers obtain this information, they can use it to gain access to the user’s financial resources. In 2020, the healthcare sector experienced nearly 600 data breaches, a 55% increase from 2019. A report by Bitglass revealed that 67.3% of all healthcare breaches resulted from hacking and IT incidents. This is a huge difference, compared to unauthorized disclosures and loss of devices, which accounted for only 21.5% and 8.7% of breaches, respectively.

Aside from data breaches, medical institutions also face other cyber threats. Ransomware attacks are one of the most prevalent. They compromise healthcare data and entire data systems, making them far more destructive than data breaches. The healthcare industry as a whole has lost over $25 billion to ransomware incidents. Statistics from Emsisoft show that 560 healthcare facilities fell victim to ransomware. Some attacks even forced facilities to halt operations temporarily.

How Data Analytics Can Help

These statistics show why data protection measures have become a necessity within the healthcare sector. Medical institutions can turn to AI and predictive analytics solutions to assist in identifying potential risks. Such software must be capable of deriving actionable information from the organization’s current systems and security products. Otherwise, the data ends up unused.

For example, analytics programs can be configured to pinpoint vulnerable points within an internal system. With machine learning, these programs can analyze huge amounts of data in real-time and use that to forecast aberrant behavior. It can also draw insights from historical data to acquire baseline information on different entities within the system. With these types of analytics programs, the workforce can identify where a cyber-attack might occur and work towards preventing it. This is done by strengthening cybersecurity measures around the weak point or moving the sensitive data to a safer place.

Alternatively, institutions can use analytics programs to plan for what to do should an attack occur. This involves pinpointing priority files and software that the facility needs to maintain the most basic operations. By either boosting the cybersecurity measures surrounding these assets or backing them up in a secure drive, then the facility can continue operations, even after experiencing a cyber attack.

The Need for More Data Experts

Analytics as data protection is an excellent means for boosting cybersecurity within the healthcare sector. However, managing such software often requires the support of data professionals. Consequently, there’s been a steady uptick in demand for data experts in the field of healthcare. This demand has led to the proliferation of the analytics market, with a projected compound annual growth rate of 13.2% through 2022. Meanwhile, the global revenue for big data is forecasted to rise to $274.3 billion in 2022. With a strong market and the heightened demand for data experts, more organizations across all industries aim to hire data experts.

Higher education institutions have opened up both bachelor’s and master’s degrees to online learning in response to this. Online master’s degree courses in data analytics are 100% coursework. They are designed for professionals who want to increase their knowledge and experience in the field but are limited by work schedules or location. These degrees are highly advanced and cover complex topics like forecasting and predictive modeling. While some healthcare jobs now cover some amount of data training, like nurse informatics specialists, an expert with a formal data education will be especially useful for healthcare facilities.

Medical institutions need people who can help in synthesizing, gathering, and interpreting data. Even the FDA has expressed its intent to hire more data experts to “unleash the power of data” in healthcare. Data has plenty of uses aside from informing medical decisions. As shown in this article, it can also improve cybersecurity measures to secure healthcare data and protect against hackers. Therefore, medical institutions must start investing in both security analytics programs and professionals that can manage them.

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