Healthcare industry: What should CIOs watch out for in 2016?

Here are some pain points of the healthcare industry. CIOs need to specifically concentrate on privacy of patient data and analytics

As healthcare grows, so does the data that is managed--and with data, especially sensitive data, comes the danger of privacy. What if a patient sues you because of some way in which an organization has put his data to use?

This brings us to security. Patients trust you with their data. What if a hacker manages to get information about your patients? This is especially a matter of concern for high-end hospitals treating top-notch politicians and actors, who would want to keep data on their ailments away from the Press and the public. Agari's Email TrustIndex for 2014, which was released earlier in 2015, says that despite being relentlessly targeted by phishing and spam, the healthcare sector is not likely to use email security technologies to protect customers.

Apart from the above, here are other areas that CIOs should concentrate on:

  • Big Data Analytics: Many countries don't have clear-cut rules as yet on what you can do with patient data, and India is also one among them. Do you keep data about each patient in silos to protect privacy or do you use it to analyze trends that may make for better treatment? This is a big field--IBM this year spent $1 billion to acquire Merge Healthcare, a specialist in medical image handling and processing, and this was the third acquisition it has made this year for Watson health.
  • Cloud: Is your cloud service provider compliant with any regulations that may be required to manage patient confidentiality?
  • IoT: Soon, patients will be wearing sensors that will monitor critical parameters like blood sugar, heartbeat, and other symptoms. How will this information flow into your servers? Will you be encrypting it at the device level to keep it away from hackers?
  • International issues: Each country has its own set of rules and regulations for healthcare usage and you may have to maintain data of patients from different countries in separate silos, especially if you are into medical tourism.
  • Targeted attacks: Earlier this year, the Stegoloader Trojan specifically targeted healthcare organizations in the US. India may one day become a target for such attacks. Although yet to be seen in attacks, steganography can potentially be a new technique cybercriminals looking to perform healthcare attacks can use to expose medical records in the future, say Trend Micro researchers.

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