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Today, healthcare organizations are more connected than ever before.

The number of internet-connected devices in healthcare are rising, and the average hospital room is equipped with 15-20 connected medical devices.1 With this proliferation of devices comes both clinical benefits and security risks.

In the past two years, 63% of healthcare organizations experienced a security incident related to unmanaged and IoT devices.2 Couple this with the fact that last year, more data breaches were reported in healthcare than any other year on record.3 These breaches have the potential to cause significant harm to healthcare organizations, especially if critical clinical machines are infected.

Care delivery models are also changing. As a direct result of the pandemic, telehealth and virtual visits have increased exponentially. Patients now expect secure healthcare on-demand, from any location. This year alone, the growth of virtual visits is up 124%4, and we believe that telehealth will become the new normal in healthcare.

Plus, more clinicians and care teams are working remotely, which means they need secure access to the operational domain and to electronic health and medical records (EHR/EMR). According to healthcare executives in this PwC poll, 70% are prioritizing improving the remote work experience (compared to 49% across other industries) and 67% plan to make remote work a permanent option for roles that allow it (compared to 54% across other industries).5

With all these connections, just think of the volume of healthcare data being transferred and stored every day. All of this data requires a strong defense to enhance patient safety and protect organizations from cybersecurity breaches.

medical professional with cybersecurity

So, what’s at stake?

Healthcare organizations are under great pressure to protect sought-after digital assets, intellectual property, financial information, and patient data.

The financial costs associated with a healthcare organization’s failure to protect confidential patient data can be severe.

$429 the average per-record data breach cost for healthcare. This more than doubles any other industry sector.6

In addition to financial burdens associated with poor security, network downtime and loss of critical server and application operations can also be a consequence. Network downtime can interfere with a provider’s ability to treat patients and impact patient safety.

And, possibly the greatest consequence is loss of patient and partner confidence. A healthcare organization that has been the victim of cybercrimes may lose trust and loyalty amongst their patients, insurers and clinical partners.

74% of US-based health care organizations experienced a significant security incident in the past 12 months.7

How can you protect your healthcare organization?

Between managing BYOD access policies, IoT and applications (including more applications and legacy medical devices), access to EHRs and ecosystem partner cloud offers, protecting patient data, fragmented security policies and balancing outside vendor support, the complexity in healthcare continues to grow.

Healthcare providers need an integrated, unified, end-to-end security portfolio to help address patient privacy requirements, improve threat detection, and reduce management complexity, ultimately saving time, money and putting the emphasis back on care delivery.

With Cisco Secure, you can realize the benefits of unified visibility, automation, and stronger defenses. And, with the new Cisco SecureX platform, our products combine to help safeguard your network, users and endpoints, cloud edge, and applications.

As the industry continues to see shifting sites of care, remote work and new care delivery models like telehealth and virtual visits, healthcare organizations need to ensure that their voice and video collaboration tools are secure and protect patient privacy. Healthcare providers need collaboration technology with security built in, not bolted on.

With Cisco Webex, data security is of the utmost importance, and we are dedicated to providing world-class collaboration that is simple, scalable, and designed to meet your HIPAA compliance needs. On top of that, Webex Teams, Webex Control Hub and Webex API have achieved HITRUST CSF Certification, the world’s most widely adopted security framework in the healthcare industry.

Healthcare organizations know no “next time” when it comes to protecting patient data and securing their network, users, endpoints, cloud edge and applications. Now is the time to develop a holistic security strategy to help protect what matters most.

  1. Cybersecurity Magazine, Patient Insecurity: Explosion Of The Internet Of Medical Things​
  2. Armis, Medical and IOT Device Security for Healthcare, 2019​
  3. HIPAA Journal: 2019 Healthcare Data Breach Report​
  4. Frost and Sullivan: Telehealth: A Technology-Based Weapon in the War Against the Coronavirus in 2020
  5. PwC COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey, 2020
  6. Ponemon 2019 Cost​ of a Data Breach Report​
  7. 2019 HIMSS Cybersecurity Report

This blog post was originally written by Marlon Harvey for Cisco Blogs.