Three critical ways to keep your data healthy
By Lucas Salter, General Manager, Data Protection Solutions, Asia Pacific & Japan, Dell Technologies
Thursday, 07 October, 2021
Working with large datasets, the health industry has embraced artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve challenges in everything from patient care, medical imaging, diagnosis to genetic analysis and drug research and development. This critical and valuable data needs to be handled with the utmost care and kept securely to comply with government regulations and to protect patient confidentiality.
The correct handling and storage of this data is a concern for many in the sector. According to a recent survey by Dell Technologies1, 74% of health industry decision-makers say they struggle to find suitable data protection for their AI and machine learning solutions. These evolving technologies will contribute to already ever-growing datasets with Statista reporting that the total amount of data consumed globally will reach 180 zettabytes in 2025, up from 64.2 zettabytes this year2.
Data faces a range of threats — from cyber attacks, to human error, to technical glitches. When a business is unable to access the data that’s driving business services, it causes a ripple effect. Departments are unable to work, money is lost and the IT team has to down tools to get systems back online.
IT leaders are changing their mindset to act as if cyber attacks or downtime are an inevitable threat, with 62% of respondents in the Dell Technologies Global Data Protection Index3 survey worried they will experience a disruptive event in the next 12 months and 65% lacking confidence that their business-critical data can be recovered.
However, the right data protection strategy and recovery solution can protect and keep this valuable data safe. To help IT leaders in the health industry know how to navigate the management of data, we have outlined the three steps for success.
1. Lay the right foundation
Managing data is a barrier all IT teams face. With legacy infrastructure systems under pressure, the health industry is looking to new as-a-service (aaS) cloud-based solutions that can be easily scaled up or down when required and can be managed externally. The Dell Technologies Data Paradox Research4 discovered 59% of health leaders surveyed plan to move to a data aaS model and 48% believe that an aaS model would stop them from being held back by outdated infrastructure.
In an industry that manages highly sensitive data, for example electronic medical records, scheduling, payment and billing systems, IT managers, medical professionals and patients need to have peace of mind knowing that the data, essential for the day-to-day running of their business, is secure and can be easily recovered.
An as-a-service platform, such as Dell Technologies APEX5, marries the flexibility of cloud with the security of the data centre, allowing IT teams to focus on innovation. The turnkey solution is managed remotely, freeing up valuable resources to focus on improving patient care or developing apps to help with essential research and development (R&D). This easily scalable model means you only pay for what you use, providing cost-efficiency and transparency.
2. Focus on risk reduction and resilience
Six out of 10 health professionals plan to monetise their data in the next 1–3 years6, so putting in place a solution that will protect this valuable commodity is vital to achieving business goals. Today, cyber resiliency needs to be centred around risk reduction and resiliency, and be an integral part of your overall business strategy, driven and sponsored at board level.
According to Cybersecurity Ventures7, in 2021, a cyber or ransomware attack occurs every 11 seconds globally and, worryingly, the health industry is named as one of the sectors most heavily impacted. Looking at the threats closer to home, in Australia an average of 164 cybersecurity incidents are reported per day — or 1 every 10 minutes8.
The key to a solid data protection strategy is to build it into your infrastructure and regularly review and amend to make sure it’s suitable for the ever-evolving threat landscape. In fact, the Dell Technologies Global Data Protection Index9 found 82% of respondents were worried their existing data protection solution won’t be able to meet all future business challenges and 62% were concerned their existing data protection wouldn’t cope with malware and ransomware threats, which shows that you just can’t ‘set and forget’ with data protection.
3. Understand local and industry regulations
The health industry faces another unique challenge with managing data, as it’s often highly sensitive and subject to industry data retention requirements, adding significant cost overhead to deliver health services. The Dell Technologies Global Data Protection Index revealed that 64% of health leaders aren’t very confident their current data protection solutions are compliant with the government’s data regulations.
When it comes to choosing whether to invest in a cloud solution or store your data on-premises, make sure you’re aware of the regulations specific to your industry. Many Australian organisations, including the medical industry, should start familiarising themselves with the Critical Infrastructure Bill, which is currently passing through parliament. The new legislation will “protect the essential services all Australians rely on, uplifting the security and resilience of critical infrastructure”10. Changes to the amendment will require more sectors to report on data breaches, providing the federal government with a more coordinated and effective approach to dealing with cybersecurity, and failure to do so will result in significant penalties. So, what does this mean for businesses? You will be required to have robust procedures in place to mitigate impacts in the event a threat has been realised, and recover as quickly as possible.
Futureproofing your most valuable asset
As the past 18 months have shown us, no one can predict the future. But understanding how you can protect and recover your data will play an important role in business success. Due to outdated IT systems, lack of cybersecurity protocols, reduced IT staff and highly sensitive data, the health industry is an attractive target to cybercriminals. It’s estimated the health industry will spend $125 billion between 2020 and 2025 to modernise its cybersecurity capabilities11.
Over the next five years, data will continue to grow, and businesses will learn to monetise it in order to stay ahead of the competition. For the healthcare industry that delivers the critical services, futureproofing your data is key to remain as a reliable and trusted organisation to the community.
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