How Microsoft Azure Can Help Protect Healthcare Data
Did you know that hospitals and healthcare companies account for almost a quarter of all data breaches each year? Why are medical records so appealing to hackers?
According to recent studies, health data is the second most vulnerable information, behind only social security numbers. In 2019, about 25 million patient records were compromised. It's also worth mentioning that 53% of all hospital data breaches occur inside the institution. What's more concerning is that most hospitals were unaware of the actual cyberattack/breach for almost a month.
Why are healthcare records in danger, and why do hackers target them? Why are healthcare security issues getting more challenging to address with each passing year? Are you ready to meet this persistent challenge of data breaches by incorporating managed IT services? Continue reading to learn more.
Why do hackers love healthcare data?
According to the study stated in the introduction, about 15 million patient data were exposed in 2018. The number of impacted records almost quadrupled in a single year, from little more than 5.5 million in 2017 to more than 15 million in 2018.
For a variety of reasons, hackers want to get access to healthcare institutions and patient data. On the black market, health records and other patient-related information are in high demand. In some instances, hackers are even capable of reselling the information to the company. Further, hackers may profit from patient data by blackmailing or selling it to the highest bidder.
In addition, threat actors may attempt to get personal information from well-known patients. In 2017, for example, cyber criminals gained access to the network of a prominent London cosmetic surgery facility. In this high-profile case, information was obtained from several celebrity clients. Among the data were photographs, medical records, locations, and even vital financial information. This kind of data may be utilized to investigate fraud, stalking, and harassment.
Also, medical institutions are targeted by hackers due to their delayed adoption of security measures. Additionally, many lack the resources required to implement cutting-edge security measures and guarantee that patient information is adequately safeguarded.
How can the healthcare industry benefit from more cybersecurity?
Invariably, healthcare is highly dependent on technology these days, not just for devices that may aid in disease treatment but also for data transmission, retrieval, and storage. Health informatics is critical to the efficiency of the healthcare industry. However, cyberattacks have shown that technology is not always dependable. Why do so many healthcare organizations spend millions of dollars to defend themselves against cyberattacks, and why is cybersecurity so critical to the industry?
Because the population is continuously growing, it is critical to provide effective therapy. Healthcare workers were sometimes forced to spend hours filling out paperwork rather than caring for their patients. This was a period of treatment inefficiency, when patients did not always get the care they needed, no matter how hard healthcare workers worked.
In this case, cybersecurity is critical since healthcare professionals cannot function effectively without access to technical data housed in databases and networks. It's particularly essential now when the world's population is expanding at such a rapid rate that even the most efficient businesses are failing to keep up.
Managed cybersecurity services can help save millions of dollars in the healthcare sector
When comparing today's healthcare efficiencies to 20 years ago, it's easy to notice how accessible technology has decreased the need for experts. Because the amount of physical documentation required is reduced, professionals may be able to care for more patients in an 8-hour shift than they might in a 12-hour job.
Professionals can now easily exchange information with their colleagues, and paperwork can be maintained much more easily inside networks, freeing up space for more equipment and patient beds while needing less storage.
It is critical for patients.
Patients are likely to be more concerned about cybersecurity than the healthcare sector. Criminals may sell leaked information on the black market, which they may use to commit identity theft, Medicare fraud, and other financial crimes. Further, avoiding cyberattacks aids in the confidentiality of patient information, which is essential for achieving HIPAA compliance.
A patient-related data breach may be costly.
One significant advantage of cybersecurity in the healthcare sector is that it helps prevent the leaking of patient information. As previously said, the healthcare sector saves money since experts are much more efficient in providing services. That, however, would not be a sufficient justification to deter cyberattacks. A lawsuit over stolen data, for example, may bankrupt a healthcare facility, which is why cyber attack security is so critical.
What exactly is Microsoft Azure, and how does it function?
When people ask me what Microsoft Azure is, we give them the most straightforward answer: Azure is a cloud computing platform that allows businesses to virtualize all or a portion of their computer operations, such as servers, storage, databases, networking, and analytics.
Organizations used to have few alternatives other than constructing and sustaining essential computer gear such as servers, disk storage, and Ethernet switches. Today, healthcare organizations may now buy and manage all computer equipment via a public cloud computing platform such as Azure. As a consequence, businesses may basically "rent" hardware resources on an as-needed basis.
In addition, you can mix Azure's services to get the assistance you need for your business's operations, like app development, deployment, and maintenance. In addition, since you are renting computer capabilities, you save the expenses and inefficiencies associated with buying actual gear (such as a specialized IT staff). Many organizations are now using a hybrid approach that combines cloud computing with on-premises datacenters. Some companies may use several cloud computing providers to meet their unique requirements and objectives.
Undoubtedly, Azure is also appealing to a significant number of healthcare institutions. One reason for this is that they can avoid large capital expenditures on equipment while also reducing the load of updates and maintenance, which may be challenging for small enterprises without in-house expertise. Furthermore, Azure is more flexible than conventional on-premise datacenters since it enables companies to add or remove computing resources in minutes rather than hours (or days!).
Why should healthcare firms trust Microsoft Azure with their workloads?
On-premise data centers, it has been claimed, are doomed. Self-hosted data centers, like mainframes and dial-up modems before them, are being phased out in favor of more accessible and cost-effective cloud alternatives. Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM, and Apple's omnipresent iCloud, which stores the photo memories and music preferences of hundreds of millions of smartphone users, have emerged as significant competitors in the cloud service industry.
Another benefit of Microsoft Azure was its fast, globally dispersed infrastructure, which enabled practically unlimited disaster recovery plans. Ensure that your mission-critical applications and data can continue to operate from redundant locations for recovery times of minutes or hours rather than days. Time is money, and with Azure, you can ensure that service delivery continues even if a catastrophe occurs.
How does Microsoft Azure help protect healthcare data?
Recently, Microsoft announced that its Azure API for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) would be renamed "Azure Healthcare APIs" and would now accept new data types.
Why is this important? FHIR is a standard for transferring healthcare data across computer systems, regardless of how the data is kept.
The FHIR Azure API is a "superset" of the Azure Healthcare APIs. It enables large-scale management of protected health information (PHI) data.
In addition, healthcare data is imported and translated from a healthcare provider's systems of record using Azure Healthcare APIs. A longitudinal patient record is created by integrating the data. This record is based on real-time data gathered and stored regularly for various health data categories using industry-standard health data standards.
Several kinds of health data are shown below:
- Structured inputs including HL7 or C-CDA clinical records, data from medical equipment, health-related services such as HealthKit and Google Fit, and genomics databases.
- Unstructured data can be mapped to natural language processing techniques that annotates and organizes data in FHIR from clinical notes or text documents, allowing it to coexist alongside structured clinical data.
- DICOMCast technology pulls critical information from pictures and maps it to FHIR patient records using imaging data in Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) formats that can be accessed through an API gateway and used by DICOMCast technology.
- Biometric data from devices, which can be ingested via Microsoft's Azure IoT Connector for FHIR, may be used to give information on health patterns to care teams, allowing for rapid interventions and remote treatment.
If you have previously used the Azure API for FHIR you can continue to do so without experiencing service interruptions or price adjustments.
With so many company activities now taking place in the cloud, the cost of a cloud misconfiguration or insufficient cloud optimization may be prohibitively expensive. As a result, selecting the appropriate Azure managed services provider (MSP) is critical for healthcare organizations interested in keeping their valuable data safe. A Microsoft Azure MSP will work with you from consultation through migration and operations management.