Security, privacy and agility: why healthcare management needs all three to succeed

Like other industries, the healthcare industry is also undergoing an upheaval of change which will have huge ramifications in the way the entire sector operates. But unlike other sectors, healthcare has been slow to adapt to the big data movement.

The healthcare sector has historically been slow to adapt to technological change, but already we are seeing digital transformation take a foothold in many healthcare organisations. The use of Software as a Service (SaaS) and other data technologies in the healthcare sector is still in its infancy, but many players have already begun their transformation and are realising the benefits of digital modes of working. Healthcare organisations are increasingly using telemedicine and mobile-based health services for implementing novel and innovative ways to provide care and coordinate with patients and third parties. Many others are turning to digital tools to manage their organisations more efficiently, streamline operational costs, and improve their business agility.

Modernised healthcare demands business agility

In the age of patient-centric healthcare, everyone—insurance companies, hospitals, physicians, and other care providers—has to compete on quality outcomes, cost efficiencies and agility to respond to rapidly evolving patient needs. Being able to deliver on these three criteria can make all the difference between being a progressive healthcare service or being unable to provide the level of care expected by patients today. To survive and thrive in an increasingly digital environment, healthcare companies have to do three things:

1. Transition operations to patient-first modes of working. Healthcare and services providers need to fundamentally reshape their culture to place the patient at the centre of all their operations. That involves orienting their systems and processes around patient needs, which can involve anything from e-billing to telemedicine to self-service portals that enable patients to remotely access care as needed.

2. Build business agility as a core competency. Healthcare organisations can no longer work in silos. They need to be able to exchange data and information with other services and organisations like insurance companies, supply chains, specialist facilities immediately. APIs, access control and standardisation of data management practices are key to enabling that agility.

3. Leverage vast amounts of data for analytics and operational efficiency. Healthcare providers need to have the capability to store, consolidate and access enormous amounts of data that can originate from many sources, including electronic medical records, medical imaging scanners, personnel information, payroll, procurement and IoT devices. This is essential for both analytics and operations, as well as unlocking efficiencies across the medical value chain.

How healthcare SaaS enables business agility

The major elements of any healthcare system are health professionals (physicians or nurses), health facilities (clinics, aged care, facilities for medical diagnosis, treatment and care), community services and the financial institutions supporting them. The operational requirements for these elements include functions like financials, payroll, billing, coordination, insurance, purchasing and HR. Transforming any of these functions has the potential to improve the quality, service efficiency, and costs of healthcare along with a reduction in delays and errors. But the best results are achieved when all these areas can work collectively through a unified digital platform that enables efficiency and agility across the board.

Healthcare SaaS is well placed to meet this challenge. Transitioning to SaaS represents a straightforward way to deal with the complexity and volume of patient and clinical information, while enabling business agility, near real-time information and analytics, and security compliance. By providing integrated access to the data wherever it resides, healthcare SaaS shortens the time it takes to make informed decisions and put them into action. This enables healthcare organisations to achieve effective outcomes without having to worry about how to access, store, convert, integrate, copy, move, secure, and distribute data upfront and on an ongoing basis.

Preserving security and privacy

While digitisation has led to improvements in patient care workflows and cost efficiencies, the rise of healthcare data has also increased the risks of security and privacy breaches. From July–December 2019,  Australia's health sector accounted for 22% of all data breaches, making it the highest reporting sector in the country. These findings point to a pressing need for providers to take a much more proactive and comprehensive approach to healthcare data security. While the government has laid out some guidelines for cyber security and data privacy, it is up to individual healthcare organisations to make sure they meet compliance requirements and have taken all reasonable steps to ensure security.  

In practice, that means any technology system they adopt needs to meet baseline compliance requirements. But cyber security is a rapidly evolving field, and cyber attackers keep evolving new tactics and technologies to carry out their attacks. That is why accreditations, certifications and security standards are always being updated. Healthcare organisations need to make sure they comply with these changing standards, which can often mean huge costs and overheads from an operations point of view. But partnering with a SaaS provider can be an effective solution to this dilemma. Most SaaS providers offer a continually updated software environment that meets strict global regulatory standards. They also roll out regular software and security updates without disrupting the day-to-day workflow of their clients. By sharing the responsibility of data security with their SaaS provider, healthcare organisations can focus on their core responsibility of providing the best care to their patients.

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Publish date

09 Apr 2021

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