Shadow IT: The Achilles Heel of Growing Medical Practices

Cloud technology has done wonders for the healthcare industry. It's enabled medical professionals to get aspects of their jobs done more quickly, easily and flexibly and it's allowed hospitals and private practices to scale their IT in an efficient, cost-effective manner. The cloud has also provided patients with the ability to instantly and continually access their personal health records and better communicate with providers.

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According to recent research from HIMSS Analytics and Level 3, 35% of healthcare provider organizations are already using the cloud for patient engagement and empowerment tools. What's more, a MarketsandMarkets report found the global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to reach $9.48 billion by 2020. The rate at which cloud adoption is accelerating in the medical industry is undeniably impressive, however it raises a crucial concern: Can healthcare organizations maintain control of all the cloud-based applications employees introduce?

Shadow IT, or the concept of computer systems, applications or devices being used without explicit organizational knowledge or approval, is a common phenomenon amongst growing medical practices, and it can introduce serious cybersecurity concerns, especially given the sensitivity and rising black market value of patient health data. A nurse using their personal iPhone to communicate patient updates to a primary care physician via unencrypted iMessage may appear harmless, for instance, but such behavior can drastically increase the likelihood of a catastrophic data breach.

To protect your medical practice from the dangers of Shadow IT, particularly as your business scales, consider the following five best practices:

  1. Scan your network.
    To quickly identify any instances of Shadow IT, leverage vulnerability scanning technology to continuously monitor your network for new and unknown devices. Be sure to log where new devices are found on your network and what kind of devices they are. Also, compare your list of devices between scans to determine when new devices appear.

To read the full article, head over to HIE Answers.

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