Research from European provider of cloud infrastructure and cloud services, IONOS Cloud, has found that 37% of healthcare IT decision-makers say their organisation is at risk of security threats due to skills gaps.
Additionally, four in 10 (39%) are facing a skills gap in data protection, with a quarter (25%) saying it means they are not adhering to necessary legislation or following the correct data protection procedures (21%).
The survey polled 203 healthcare IT decision-makers as part of a wider survey of 609 respondents.
WHY IT MATTERS
The aim of the report was to better understand the current challenges businesses are facing in the wake of the pandemic, and where cyber security and data protection standards are sitting on healthcare business’s IT priority lists.
When asked about the biggest threats to their healthcare business’s IT security at this time, IT decision-makers surveyed said employees downloading unapproved apps (40%), an increase in web-based attacks (37%) and phishing and scam attacks (36%).
“The skills gap in healthcare IT is becoming more acute and has the potential to exacerbate the already palpable workforce crises.”
– Dr Charles Alessi, chief clinical officer, HIMSS
The report also highlighted that many businesses recognise the importance of cyber security, with 85% saying cyber security protection was either their top priority, or within the top three, and 79% saying the same for data protection.
However, when asked about cyber security risk assessments, three in 10 (30%) of those surveyed have conducted one in the past 12 months.
A further 21% have conducted one more than five years ago and have no plans to do one in the near future, and 9% have never conducted one and do not plan to. These findings demonstrate a lack of understanding regarding the importance of risk monitoring and cyber vulnerabilities.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
Investing in current and future workforce member skills will be critical for the digital transformation across all healthcare sectors. In a HIMSS21 digital panel, a number of experts discussed a variety of strategies needed to build a digital health workforce competent in data analytics, technology and other core competency areas.
ON THE RECORD
Dr Charles Alessi, chief clinical officer at HIMSS, said: “The skills gap in healthcare IT is becoming more acute and has the potential to exacerbate the already palpable workforce crises.
“Not only is there a death of IT skills in the workforce associated with the deployment of processes like better cybersecurity which are essential to ensure safe and effective delivery of healthcare, but there is also a crying need to ensure that patient-facing healthcare workers are equipped with the right skills and training to make the most of this multimodal blended digital approach to the delivery of healthcare. Solutions exist for these critical issues, now we need to ensure we prioritise their delivery as this is the only way we are going to be in a good shape as we emerge from the pandemic.”
Achim Weiss, CEO of IONOS, said: “Healthcare companies are often the guardians of sensitive personal information, yet the Information Commissioner’s Annual 2019 Report found that healthcare is the worst sector when it comes to data breaches, accounting for 20% of the total in 2019.”
“It is not just large or well-known healthcare organisations at risk – the pandemic has accelerated digitalisation across the industry, potentially leaving businesses more vulnerable, and meaning the need for flawless cyber security and data protection practices is more important than ever before.”
“Everyone within a healthcare company is responsible for protecting data, storing it correctly, and committing to following cyber security best practice. While internal procedures like staff training are an important step in preventing attacks, seeking external expertise and working with designated providers can add an extra layer of defence and much needed peace of mind, especially when businesses are facing a skills or knowledge gap.”