Nov 03 2021

Why Healthcare Systems Need to Make Cybersecurity a Top Priority

With healthcare’s ongoing digital transformation, cybersecurity must stay at the forefront and become a regular part of care delivery.

The average hospital room contains 15 to 20 connected medical devices, such as patient monitors, ventilators and IV pumps. These Internet of Medical Things tools have become a much-needed part of patient care, but they also represent security challenges.

In August, a team of McAfee researchers found vulnerabilities in a widely used infusion pump that could allow hackers to change a patient’s medication dosage. As with other IoMT devices, healthcare systems can guard the pumps by updating software versions and by strengthening network security through segmentation and multifactor authentication.

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Cybersecurity experts have their eyes on healthcare, which remains one of the most targeted industries. The healthcare cybersecurity sector of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that nearly 60 percent of the ransomware incidents it was tracking globally as of spring 2021 affected the U.S. health field.

Even in this threat landscape, however, cybersecurity investment is not topping healthcare leaders’ priority lists. According to a report from Philips and CyberMDX, despite many of the surveyed executives experiencing “an externally motivated shutdown” in recent months, more than 60 percent of healthcare IT teams have spending priorities elsewhere. Less than 11 percent named cybersecurity as a high budget priority.

Health Systems Are Taking Action on Cybersecurity

The features in this issue of HealthTech place healthcare cybersecurity front and center. For “Layer It Up,” we highlight the measures the Bear Valley Community Healthcare District in Southern California has taken to shore up its defenses. In “Control Points,” we look at how Magnolia Regional Health Center in Corinth, Miss., is ensuring that a basic communication tool doesn’t become an entry point for ransomware.

And “Building Blocks” showcases how ­systems like UNC Health are handling large streams of information as hospitals continue to rely on vast amounts of data for patient care.

With healthcare’s ongoing digital transformation, cybersecurity must stay at the forefront and become a regular part of care delivery.

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