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November 6, 2017
The security of healthcare delivery networks has been in the news lately as part of a larger trend of hacks that include ransomware unleashed by healthcare workers simply opening the wrong email:
While these are just three examples Healthcare IT News reported on at least 40 separate incidents in 2017 alone within the healthcare space. As the threats multiply and the incidents make headlines, many healthcare c-suite executives and independent medical providers have moved to outsourcing IT service management to external security providers. This post explores why healthcare delivery networks should consider outsourcing IT security to trusted advisors.
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Pros and Cons of Outsourcing IT Service Management
From a strategy perspective, the overall decision of whether to outsource a service is a frequent discussion in the healthcare space. Whether the delivery mechanism is a large multi-state health system or a solo independent specialty practice, outsourcing any technology service often allows for cost savings, while freeing up the time of internal IT teams. A recent Symquest blog suggested there are five key determinants to outsourcing any IT function in any type of healthcare delivery network. Consider these points:
Outsourcing any part of IT service management must be weighed in the scope of all of these considerations. However, the increasing virulence of the cyber attacks being launched at healthcare providers requires specialized and sophisticated monitoring and an increasingly complicated set of applications to proactively monitor and defend against attacks. IT service management now requires:
There is a two-fold argument for outsourcing any IT management service, but especially security. First, hospital IT teams are not specialized in security and certainly do not have the time to devote fully to the ever-changing nature of the threats. Second, the smaller medical provider cannot afford a full-time IT team, let alone a network security analyst.
IT service management eliminates both of these problems. Some of the other “pros” of IT service management include:
While the benefits of IT service management are clear-cut, the possible disadvantages are also just as transparent. The biggest disadvantage voiced by hospital c-suite is the risk that comes with selecting an external vendor to handle the most sensitive patient data. Creating a service level agreement (SLA) that carefully defines client confidentiality along with mitigation in the event of a security breach are crucial to any outsourced arrangement.
For large healthcare organizations, outsourcing IT management may certainly be considered a detriment to the internal IT team. Giving up control to any external vendor could potentially cause political turmoil within a large entity. The answer is to select an external vendor partnership to supplement existing IT responsibilities so that internal IT teams can focus more strongly on core business functions.
Clearly, there are pros and cons for healthcare delivery networks to outsourcing IT service management to an external resource. However, the current state of cybersecurity and the increasing volume of attacks, require that healthcare providers increase their vigilance and response in these areas. Outsourcing IT service management to an external vendor is just one way to mitigate the risk.
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