The Secret Link Between Health IT Transformation, AI And Cybersecurity

SEMAIS President and CEO.


In today’s digital age, technology plays a crucial role in healthcare. Health IT transformation has revolutionized the way patient data is managed and used. With advancements in electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine and mobile health apps, healthcare professionals can seamlessly access and share vital information. It also streamlines health professionals’ ability to diagnose and discover health issues early with AI-driven data.

The transformation for health IT comes with unique advances and opportunities to improve patients’ healthcare, but with great power comes great responsibility. As healthcare becomes increasingly reliant on technology, the need for robust cybersecurity measures becomes paramount. The interconnected nature of health IT leaves it vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches, which can have severe consequences for patient privacy and safety.

What Binds Them Together
Health IT, AI, and cybersecurity intersect and carry interdependencies. As I’ve previously discussed, these interrelationships are not abnormal since technology integration and cybersecurity carry dual relationships. In addition, my featured publication, "The Cybersecurity Mindset," emphasized how transformation depends on cybersecurity outcomes and digital modernization. This means antiquated software programs, improvements for medical diagnosis, legacy systems and previous incidents determine health IT transformation requirements.

Health IT transformation survives best when cost-reduction strategies are planned and implemented. The planning process implies that healthcare organizations must use previous data points from cybersecurity events or technology performance factors to determine transformation strategies.

A 2023 IBM report (via the HIPAA Journal) found that the cost of the average data breach was $4.45 million, with breaches in the United States costing an average of $9.48 million. Healthcare organizations can use similar metrics and data points to determine transformation strategies.

For instance, when a cyberattack occurs, the root cause may indicate that a software program has limited capacity, inadequate cybersecurity measures or does not support customization. This occurs when IT environment operational requirements change due to an increased volume of patients, data or cyber threats. Imagine a healthcare facility’s operations changing due to data transactions exceeding the infrastructure performance rate or capacity. This would require a significant transformation or system upgrade.

AI can help reduce system deficiencies when health IT operations change. For instance, when a rapid influx of data patterns exists, or data correlation becomes complex, an organization can supplement various data analytics requirements with AI.

Data analysis can drive the difference in preventing false diagnoses and whether cybersecurity shields patients’ data. Through health IT transformation, AI can provide efficiency and productivity where human-imposed errors cause misdiagnoses and risks. This means an organization that scaled from 1 million to 5 million patients would become hybrid—use humans and technology. The solution would supplement some human-based decisions for medical transactions and diagnosis through AI. The final result, answer or diagnosis would require a human decision.

Patient Health Safety And Data Protection
Health IT transformation occurs for various reasons, events and business decisions. A patient’s healthcare, data and access to medical records are critical. Each determines whether the information is accurate, processed and provided in real time. Integrating advanced technologies has digitalized medical information and supported patients’ data protection requirements.

EHRs are digitally transforming health IT and cybersecurity. Private medical organizations have found great use and attraction since paper records must be stored in facilities, and sharing requirements need rapid attention. Imagine visiting a medical provider and being told, "Your records from your primary physician have not been faxed or mailed." This could cause severe delays in healthcare. Through various modernization strategies, however, patient records are now readily available.

One organization that has taken strides in implementing an EHR system is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In 2019, the VA decided to transform its health records program so that it could connect VA medical facilities with the Department of Defense, the U.S. Coast Guard, and 60,000 community care providers. The change allowed clinics to quickly access a veteran’s medical history from a centralized location.

During the transition, cybersecurity measures such as information sharing, data protection rights and data retention remained critical. This is also where AI and its dual relationship operate and provide value. Despite the advancements, cybersecurity remains critical due to newer attacks and data protection requirements.

With the increasing interconnectedness of devices and systems, protecting sensitive patient information from malicious attacks has become paramount. One particular area is device safety. Medical devices have posed a critical concern since many devices are unpatched and unmonitored and store personal information. Additional risks from health organizations using antiquated or older devices also pose risks.

This is where the FDA becomes a risk remediator, as it regulates medical device safety and keeps the public informed. Healthcare organizations designing a strategic plan for innovation or modernization would benefit from the FDA’s involvement. The data points would help identify which devices support the health organization’s patient safety needs and data protection standards.

A Call To Action
Examining the balance between improving patient health and technology integration is vital. The transformation strategies health IT organizations select should be holistic and cybersecurity-focused. Some vital inputs are incident management, FDA regulation, patient concerns, legacy applications or improved diagnosis. Also, adding the AI component simplifies healthcare providers’ workload and supports predictive analytics. Medical professionals can achieve early diagnosis and make well-informed decisions using predictive data.

The health IT transformation is an ongoing journey that requires constant engagement and innovation strategies. Cybersecurity communities and technology innovators must collaborate to balance patient safety and business growth. One such case is how AI can contribute to this transformation. However, it’s essential to acknowledge the deficiencies that exist with AI, such as misinformation and disinformation.

Despite the challenges posed by the intersection of health IT, AI, and cybersecurity, our ultimate goal remains to ensure patient safety through a secure transformation strategy. Let’s achieve this end state by embracing innovation and staying vigilant against potential threats. Together, we can pave the way toward a brighter, safer future for health IT.
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