To manage security risks, hospitals must answer a few key questions. These questions arise because hospitals today face a unique set of challenges.
Most companies have data that they consider vital. Hospitals have data that literally means the difference between life and death. Hospitals are home to vast stores of sensitive medical information, equipment, and medicine. They are also high-traffic locations that treat vulnerable populations of people. To say hospitals must take threats seriously is an understatement.
For a hospital to manage risk properly, it is imperative that:
- communications systems function correctly
- outages and failures don’t happen
- emergency procedures are firmly in place
- those procedures are familiar to all personnel
Knowing about risk is the best way to mitigate it, and to map out responsibility across an organization. A hospital failing to take this course of action could jeopardize public health and safety. Here are some of the key questions about risk that hospitals must be aware of.
Question 1 - What Security and Communications Systems are in Place?
The internet is widely believed to have been a blessing for hospitals and healthcare systems. It has enabled the quick transfer of information and new levels of organizational efficiency. However, every silver lining has a cloud. The increase in networked-technology has created fragmented communication systems. In many cases, a server is overloaded by splintered databases that have redundancies, bugs, and defects.
For hospitals to properly manage risk and respond to threats, they must understand what systems are in place. What information platforms are you using? Do different parts of the hospital use different technology? Does any of it have overlapping functionality? Which systems talk to each other? What personnel are present, and what levels of access do they have? What routine testing and investigations are done to mitigate the threat of a security breach?
Hospital administrators listed “technology acquisitions, investments, and implementations” as the third greatest challenge for 2017, according to Healthcare Executive. It can be difficult to stay on top of your networked infrastructure when new technologies are in play. It can be even more difficult to determine which systems have become ineffectual.
Question 2 - What are the Risks if these Systems Fail?
Greater connectivity means greater risk. A connected system is more vulnerable to data breaches and hacks. A hospital or healthcare system must be aware that if its communications systems fail, its security measures may also fail entirely.
The impact of a systematic failure or security breach extends beyond your hospital network. If you engage in regional or national information-sharing, you could be extending the risk to other hospital networks and communities.
If security procedures aren’t in place, a failure, outage, or threat could be mishandled. For example, an untrained staffer could be unwittingly using medical devices that are infected with malware or that do not use intrusion detection mechanisms.
Question 3 - What Should We Do in Case of an Emergency?
Emergencies are where personnel accountability comes to the forefront. Hospital administrators need to have an understanding of staff coming into and out of the building at all times. They must be aware of levels of access and technical capabilities. They must set up a framework for communication while protecting the hospital’s valuable assets and information. They must also, as much as possible, eliminate the manual processing of data from disparate spreadsheets, databases, and individuals.
None of these tasks are simple. That’s why using the right technology is of critical importance. Products like AtHoc Connect allow users to create their own permission-based communications networks. They can also enable process automation that saves critical minutes and shores up security measures.
Question 4 - How Can We Ensure the Safety of All Personnel During a Crisis?
In times of crisis, the safety of 100% of your personnel is a non-negotiable goal. You need all personnel to become assets of the crisis management machine. As an organization, you’ll need separate entities to come together to collaborate and communicate, often internally and externally. As well as having a core leadership team, you should have a core security operation that can understand how to do the best when planning for the worst.
Sometimes, risk management comes in the form of efficiently accounting for people. It may also mean reporting the status of a wing, a technical program, or an individual in real-time. AtHoc Account can work as a single source for accountability information by compiling safety details from call centers, individuals, and third-party platforms.
Learn more about safeguarding your healthcare personnel during an emergency. Download our whitepaper: Protecting Healthcare Personnel Through Emergency Communications.