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Cyber security critical for healthcare digitalization strategy: Sourav Chanda

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Monday, July 11, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Cyber security is vital for healthcare digitalization strategy. There is a need to implement a comprehensive data security strategy that starts with embedding data security principles into the governance frameworks and enforcing risk-based decision-making, said Sourav Chanda, executive director – cybersecurity, Providence India.

Healthcare providers need to prioritize investments commensurate to the extent of transformation. It must  inherit these data security principles, leverage zero-trust secure architecture, bake security within development, maintenance and operations processes, and remain compliant to data protection laws like the USA’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and India’s Digital Information Security In Healthcare Act (DISHA), he added.

While the CISO (chief information security officer) must evolve into an internal advisor and security teams transform to address the newfound challenges of digitalization, basic security practices like end-user training, asset inventory, sensitive data encryption, secure remote access, multi-factor authentication, least privilege access, logging and patching must be foundational elements of the digital operating model, said Chanda.

Healthcare is at an inflection point today, as data-powered digital technologies transform the hospital-patient experience, and more importantly, save lives. The impact of digitalization in healthcare can be seen across multiple areas ranging from personal wearable devices to revenue cycle management for ensuring predictive cash flow cycles, smooth financial reporting, efficient management of real estate, facilities and logistics, he noted.

Digitalization also transforms the patient and caregiver who constitute the hospital staff experience. Patients and caregivers who are also online consumers have become more demanding for frictionless, enhanced experiences and personalized benefits while being comfortable with sharing their personal data. It is an opportune time for healthcare systems to use data to serve the interests of their patients as consumers, getting real-time feedback to improve services, offer more first- and last-mile services via telehealth consultations and community preventative health campaigns, and add-on services such as home visits, prescription refills, etc, Chanda told Pharmabiz in an email.

For caregivers, digitalization is a boon in garnering staff productivity. For instance, time to onboard and train a new member of staff could be drastically reduced through single sign-on applications. Heavy administrative loads of paperwork on multiple ERP platforms could also be reduced by creating integrated data platforms. Nurses and doctors could also benefit from predictive staff scheduling and bed scheduling for transparency in workload, he said.

Most importantly, digitalization in healthcare can also have a real and literal impact on healthcare outcomes. At Providence too, we use artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics to reduce the burden of strokes by improving the monitoring and quality of care in the management of strokes. The biggest advantage that any health system has is its data. Moreover, healthcare systems have more access to data in comparison to tech companies. In fact it is not just data, but the right data sets. Therefore, data becomes a critical healthcare tool that must be governed, managed and kept secure for good use, he said.

Hence, investments in transformative digital technologies on cloud, mobility, IoT (Internet of Things) and ML (machine learning) would be meaningless if they cannot be protected, and the complexity and speed of development continues to challenge even the largest security operations, said Chanda.


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