Now more than ever, Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in hospitals, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), and other healthcare organizations have much on their shoulders. Industry consolidation and organizational change are at an all-time high in the healthcare sector. In addition, with phishing and ransomware attacks frequently occurring, maintaining a high-security posture is critical to ensuring the survival of an organization. Beyond security, a CIO leads a team that should demonstrate flexibility, availability, and proactive customer service.
Healthcare Organizations are Under Constant Security Threats
A recent article by Healthcare Innovation compiled alarming statistics on ransomware attacks in the United States over the last year. To name a few, 34% of healthcare organizations across the nation experienced ransomware attacks, and 65% of those organizations said that the cybercriminals succeeded in encrypting their data. The average cost to fix the aftermath of ransomware attacks in the U.S. is $1.27 million, and only 24% of organizations not affected last year feel they are completely protected.
A CIO takes the lead on equipping their organization with the appropriate security and ensuring their teams can function at the highest capacity and performance levels. In addition, he or she must make sure that there are enough human resources on their teams to cover every security base. In many cases, the IT teams are also the ones who are responsible for educating other staff, like providers, on technology safety procedures. Finally, all software acquisitions, network connections, and contractual arrangements need to be looked at closely in order to ensure end-to-end security.
Demonstrating Flexibility in an Ever-Changing Environment
2021 has proven a strong year for mergers and acquisitions in many sectors. Organizations consolidate, payers acquire providers (and vice-versa), health plans expand, and the like. In these shifts, the foundational technology architecture—and its CIO—are tested.
To flex and adapt, an organization’s CIO must drive a standards-based infrastructure. Without it, changes become more complicated and more costly to adopt. An analogy to illustrate this concept is taking an older home and adding additions to it. Before a homeowner can get to work, they must assess whether or not their home’s structure, electrical, plumbing, and other essential systems can support them. The original home represents the master architecture, and the ideal one is always prepared to be built upon.
Lightbeam builds its platform upon numerous standards, employing Smart on FHIR, HL7, and widely adopted encryption protocols to make interfacing and interoperability secure and straightforward. In addition, Lightbeam uses the Microsoft Azure cloud to implement an infrastructure that can rapidly expand and change to meet customer needs. Even operational processes are designed around well-respected industry standards such as SOC2 and HiTrust.
Positive Customer Service
A CIO is responsible for ensuring their team maintains high customer service standards for both internal and external customers in every organization. At Lightbeam, for example, the IT team makes sure that internal technology needs are met. They also ensure that customer-facing infrastructure has the speed, capacity, and availability that client organizations must have to succeed.
In healthcare, the IT team’s strenuous efforts ultimately guard clients’ patient health information (PHI) data. It is incredibly stressful work that requires high availability and sacrifice that cannot be undervalued, especially in an environment constantly under threat from dangerous actors.
Russ Smith is Lightbeam’s VP of Infrastructure and Security.