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Technology is widespread in healthcare organizations and growing. In fact, 91 percent of U.S. healthcare organizations have undertaken or plan to undertake a technology adoption initiative in the next 12 months, according to a survey by Ernst and Young. These organizations are taking steps to self-disrupt in the hopes of using the power of new technologies to improve the patient experience (70 percent), clinical outcomes (58 percent), and customer relationships (58 percent). A focus on healthcare data security can lay the foundation for maximizing these technologies’ impact on patient care.

“In the consumer-centric health ecosystem of the future, a focus on improving the patient experience will be absolutely critical,” said Carole Faig, U.S. Health Deputy Leader, Ernst & Young, LLP.

Although these technologies are poised to make optimistic improvements for better patient care, the report shows that concerns persist, including fear of the unknown (35 percent) and privacy issues (32 percent). For many, it’s clear: To position these technologies for success, healthcare organizations will need to lay a proper data privacy and security foundation.

Healthcare Data Security Threats

Healthcare has long been a target of data security threats, thanks to everything from the proliferation of ePHI across applications to the high value of patient data. Advanced threats have evolved, where healthcare now faces additional challenges to secure patient data against:

  • Drug diversion
  • Cybersecurity attacks
  • Identity theft and fraud
  • Insider threats

Although organizations have taken major strides to secure ePHI, what happens when they implement new innovations and technologies without a holistic understanding of how it works? As The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) notes, “The privacy and security of patient data – as well as the federal and state regulations governing such information – must be considered as new innovations and technologies are incorporated into healthcare delivery systems.”

As new vendors introduce emerging AI and machine learning-enabled technologies to the marketplace, organizations need to effectively secure patient information. In turn, they’ll continue improving patient care by helping cultivate trust that the patient’s data won’t fall into the wrong hands.

Improving Patient Care with Privacy and Helathcare Data Security as a Foundation

Ultimately, the goal of new technologies in a healthcare organization is to improve the patient experience, and patients need to know that their data is well protected. That may not be a given — 30 major healthcare data breaches have already hit the headlines in 2018. But if patients don’t trust your privacy and security controls, they may be less likely to divulge information that is critical to their care. According to a survey, data security concerns have led 21 percent of patients to withhold personal health information from their doctors; a data breach is moderately or very likely to lead an additional 54 percent to change doctors.

So before implementing technologies that can put your organization at security risk, you should ensure that you first have privacy and security technology and initiatives that lay the foundation for innovation.

Responsibly Capturing the Benefits of Innovation and Technology

Implementing new technologies in today’s era of cloud technology means a constant flow of data, much of which contains ePHI. As these systems continue to grow and interconnect, the vast web of data and workflows continuously grows. This begs the questions:

  • Who has access to your organization’s ePHI?
  • Are users accessing patient information appropriately?
  • Do connected technologies make you vulnerable to a data breach?
  • Will new technology maintain your HIPAA and HITECH compliance?

The answers to these questions may help you decipher the future of your organization’s privacy and security posture.

For some top care providers, patient privacy monitoring technology is the foundation of secure patient data. Such a solution helps them monitor user access and more confidently implement technologies that improve patient care. With a clear understanding and bird’s-eye view of patient data access across your applications, you can better identify vulnerabilities and detect, investigate, mitigate, and remediate any inappropriate access or policy violations.

Finally, be explicit and transparent about your privacy and healthcare data security initiatives with internal workers and patients alike. This will not only allow you to more successfully adopt new technologies but will also enable trust by giving patients the confidence to divulge sensitive information and provides the power to provide the best care possible

Learn more about FairWarning’s Patient Privacy Intelligence platform.