Improve Healthcare IT Security Without Hiring More IT Staff

Improve Healthcare IT Security Without Hiring More IT Staff

Your health care information is some of the most sensitive data that exists. It tells the story of a person’s health, injuries and much more. If that data is exposed, you might face all kinds of painful consequences. That’s why healthcare cybersecurity is so critical. There’s just one problem: healthcare IT departments are overstretched, and they can’t address increasing cyber threats.

Why Is Healthcare IT Security Becoming More Difficult?

Health care cybersecurity is becoming more difficult for a few reasons. First off, healthcare IT departments are being asked to support more and more health care technologies. That means integrating with new cloud apps and providing more digital health records. Managing those projects successfully takes significant effort. Not only does the technology need to work, but you have to maintain compliance with health care laws like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). 

Second, healthcare organizations are subject to an incredible volume of cyberattacks. According to Cybercrime Magazine, ransomware attacks on hospitals are forecast to increase 500% by 2021. The reason is simple. The magazine reports that medical records sell for $50 each on the dark web! In that case, stealing even a fraction of a hospital’s records would be quite profitable.

 A Tale of Two IT Security Workloads: Which Path Will You Choose?

There are two ways to respond to this growing healthcare cybersecurity situation. There is the status quo approach and the innovative approach. Let’s consider each option starting with the traditional or status quo path.

The status quo approach to health care IT security acknowledges that security is a problem. However, there are no new tools or software solutions provided. As a result, IT staff are pushed to work harder to keep the organization safe. In many cases, reactive and urgent tasks like responding to staff demands take priority. Non-urgent projects to improve security like proactively scanning for threats do not happen consistently.

Now take a look at the innovative approach. In this situation, IT security does it all. Day-to-day IT security administration tasks are completed and systematized. Full audit logs are kept for every change. The team can scan for new threats, comment on new technology projects and provide training to staff. There is even a budget for professionals to attend conferences and earn new IT security certifications. Best of all, the IT security team regularly tests and implements new IT security software to make sure the organization is fully protected.

Depending on your situation, you might assume large budgets and armies of staff are required to develop an innovative approach to IT security. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can make this happen right now. You need a few tools and the courage to have some difficult conversations.

The Three-Part “Treatment” For Healthcare IT Security Overwhelm

Your overwhelmed IT security department is sick. Fortunately, we have the cure. For this course of “security treatment” to succeed, we need to follow three steps.

1) Audit Your Current IT Security Activities

In health care, effective treatment starts with a quality diagnosis. Until we know the problem, there is no way to treat it properly. If you are overwhelmed in IT security, you need to pause and take stock of what you are currently doing. To find out, there are three simple ways to make a list of all of your IT security activities.

  • Calendar Review. Open your work calendar and review all the activities you had scheduled in the past two weeks and the next two weeks.
  • Sent Email. Your email archive is an excellent indicator of the security work you do. For example, look for IT tickets you have completed. Further, make a list of all of those “got a minute?” requests that have come in.
  • Meetings. Make a list of all of the meetings you’ve attended in the past week. If you have to prepare reports or presentations for these meetings, take note of those tasks as well.

Only move on to the next step after you make a list of 15 work activities.

2) Eliminate Low-Value Tasks

Based on the previous step, you have a fairly detailed list of IT security tasks. Your next step is to decide what to cut. For example, take a hard look at all of the IT security reports you produce. Which documents are beneficial and which sit unread? After that is done, talk to your stakeholders and staff about eliminating some of these reports.

Besides reporting, what other tasks can you eliminate or simplify? Use the power of checklists and templates to manage recurring tasks in your organization. If staff have a defined series of steps to follow to onboard a new user or app, they will be able to produce results more reliably.

After eliminating and streamlining IT security activities, there is one more step left.

3) Automate High-Value Cybersecurity Tasks

If you want to get more done in your healthcare cybersecurity department without hiring more staff, you must leverage automation. Here are two quick wins we recommend implementing.

  • Password Resets. Use Apollo to provide a 24/7 password reset service to all of your employees. By using Apollo, a specialized IT security chatbot, you will have more time to scan for new security threats.
  • Group Requester. Setting up new employees with the right access privileges is time-consuming and repetitive. After all, most people in the same department will need the same permissions. To automate this process, use Group Requester.

Your Last Step To Improve Healthcare CybersecurityIf you feel overwhelmed in your IT security work, it’s not your fault. You work hard, and you’re applying your skills to the best of your ability. You need to get better IT security software to ease the burden. To win approval for new software in the health care sector, you may apply for it. If your hospital or organization requires a business case, we’ve got you covered. You can create a draft business case in the next few hours after reading our article: Get Your SSO Software Project Funded With a Business Case

Written by Nelson Cicchitto