There is no shortage of answers to the question: What are Outcome Measures? This is because as the field of healthcare continues to expand and grow, there will continue to be answers to the question and these answers will continue to be improved on and expanded. Healthcare organizations also seek to improve their outcome measures and stay competitive while also proving the best level of care to their patients.
With the increased role that technology is playing in healthcare, answers to the question: What are Outcome Measures?” have become more technical and technology-related and even dependent. One of those areas is data security. Secure and useful data leads to a better outcome measure in a healthcare organization. And when there are technology and dat related problems like dat breech or data loss, it negatively affects outcome measures.
According to the definition of Data Security on Techopedia:
Data security refers to protective digital privacy measures that are applied to prevent unauthorized access to computers, databases, and websites. Data security also protects data from corruption. Data security is an essential aspect of IT for organizations of every size and type.
So what happens when a healthcare organization faces a data security threat that is bound to have a negative effect on outcome measures? We discuss below steps that can be taken to mitigate and prevent such threats.
How to Mitigate Cyber Security Threats to Protect Outcome Measures
Locate the Threat
One of the first steps a healthcare organization needs to take when there is a data breach or cybersecurity threat in their system is to and the threat. Identifying the source of the threat and creating a quarantine will prevent it from spreading further while it’s being resolved. Sometimes, the source of the breach or virus could be a single device and thus, the IT department has to find that device and shut it down and isolate it from the rest of the system. Once the threat is identified or the source of the problem is known, then the IT team can work towards fixing the damage that has already happened and cleaning up the system. For example, say there is a virus in the system that’s causing a glitch with patient data. Doctors and nurses can patient data but it’s outdated and all current information is translating on the front end as just encrypted code. This is a major issue as it means doctors and nurses cannot access the current information of patients when attending to them. Thus a nurse can’t tell if a patient has taken their medication, what allergies they have if they’ve eaten etc. When a problem like this occurs, the nurses and doctors need to rely on memory which would eventually lead to low outcome measures, especially in larger organizations. The IT department before fixing this issue will have to quarantine the issue to prevent further information from being lost or prevent the problem from spreading to other departments. Only after this will they begin to fix the issue.
Watch Introduction to Cyber Security Video below
Communicate with the Cyber Response Team
Some healthcare organization outsources their data security and dat storage to external firms who specialize in and data storage. When there is a breach, the internal data team should communicate with the external team, They should communicate even if they feel there’s no need and they can fix the problem internally. This is because you never know what could be the source of a problem or how deep the issue might run in the system. Communicating with the cyber response team will lead to a total system overhaul and audit to flush out any hidden viruses that led to the existing problem. In addition, the IT team should also follow predefined processes and procedures that they established in order to safely resume operations. The healthcare organization should also communicate with the vendor when there is an issue. The vendor may be able to perform an in-depth forensic security assessment to identify the extent of the breach.
Notify Necessary Parties about the Attack
One thing a healthcare organization should not do if there is a data breach or cyber attack is to hide it from their stakeholder, such as insurance companies, partner organizations and whose data have been breached. In addition, notifying the cybersecurity insurance provider could lead to the problem being solved faster as more eyes will be on the issue and more people involved in and concerned with solving the problem as soon as possible
Have a Contingency Plan
A healthcare organization should have a contingency plan on what to do or how to keep operating effectively during a cybersecurity attack or breach. The contingency plan may include having a backup data storage that can be accessed and used unbothered during a breach, or the use of off-site systems while the internal system is being repaired.
Prevent Future Damage
After a cyber attack occurs and after it has been resolved, the data security team, IT department, and IT team should put contingencies in place to prevent future attacks and prevent the same or similar problems from occurring again. Sometimes in solving a cyber attack issue, the data team could identify other breaches in the system or weak points that could lead to a future attack. These issues should be fixed and the security system should be beyond what existed before. Put simply, the data security team should learn from their mistakes. They should adopt new and improved security measures and increase their investments in their security safeguards. This increased budget will help the team build stronger more secure security measures, security tools, and devices that will prevent further attacks. It will also lead to the data team being trained in new and advanced ways of preventing attacks and dealing with an attack when it occurs.