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Healthcare Data Privacy, Security Concerns Hinder Digital Adoption

A recent survey shows that half of organizations are hesitant to adopt mobile and digital options because of healthcare data privacy and security concerns.

healthcare data privacy data security concerns

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth Snell

- Healthcare data privacy and security concerns are pushing healthcare payers and providers to reconsider whether or not they want to adopt mobile and digital health tools, according to the 8th Annual Industry Pulse Report from Change Healthcare and the HealthCare Executive Group.

Approximately half of surveyed organizations said security and privacy concerns were a leading factor in why consumer adoption of mobile and digital health tools is not more widespread. Limited functionality (35.4 percent), duplicative/redundant/confusing app environment (34.2 percent), and system interoperability (32.9 percent) were also top worry areas.

Researchers gathered responses from over 2,000 healthcare leaders, with 52 percent of those surveyed at the President, Vice President, and C-suite levels.

"The Industry Pulse results clearly underscore some of the megatrends we're seeing this year, especially with respect to transformation of care, including population health management, analytics, and consumer engagement—which are pillars of value-based care," Change Healthcare Senior Vice President of Consulting Services David Gallegos said in a statement.

"Healthcare organizations are transitioning from negative to positive incentives to influence consumer behavior much faster than most would expect,” he continued. “Payers are also taking aggressive steps to advance value-based care and crack the code to successful consumer engagement."

READ MORE: 4 Key Ways to Overcome Healthcare BYOD Security Challenges

Source: Change Healthcare/HCEG

Researchers noted that regulations around patient data privacy and security will compound concerns about mobile and digital tool adoption. This can make it more difficult to provide transparency, easy data exchange, access, and sharing, and also an exceptional end-user experience.

Seventy-nine percent of respondents said that diagnostic apps would have the greatest potential to transform healthcare, with 54 percent reporting health monitoring devices would be impactful, and 50 percent citing secure text messaging as highly impactful.

Risk-sharing (45.6 percent), pay-for-performance (43 percent), and full capitation (34.9 percent) were listed as the primary value-based reimbursement models being utilized at organizations.

Those same three models would also be the most effective at delivering performance-based care within the next three years, the survey found.

READ MORE: Top Tips for Mobile Device Security, Keeping ePHI Secure

Respondents also listed technologies that would lead to the most significant administrative cost efficiencies. Clinical data integration (63.2 percent), robotic process automation (27.2 percent), artificial intelligence (AI) (22.8 percent), member engagement hub (22.8 percent), and wearables (22.8 percent) were the top five drivers of significant cost efficiencies.

“Indeed, improving integration between financial, clinical, and systems data for administration and payment of care was also cited as a prerequisite for many of the other technologies posited in this question,” researchers explained. “For example, analytics, AI, and blockchain are most effective when they have access to complete data sets.”

Overall, respondents stated that the following were the top five significant issues for 2018:

  • Privacy and security
  • Customer service
  • Membership retention
  • Clinical and data analytics
  • Regulatory/compliance

Researchers concluded that outdated information systems will continue to cause problems for healthcare organizations, and that there is a great opportunity for consolidation and enhancement of those systems.

“These old systems increasingly can’t meet the automation, interoperability, and data processing demands of today’s healthcare market,” the research team wrote. “Adoption of contemporary technology is essential for healthcare organizations to compete in an industry that’s transforming rapidly, including value-based care, price-and-quality transparency, improved collaboration, optimized patient experience, advanced cybersecurity, and more.”

READ MORE: BYOD Security in the Healthcare Setting

Healthcare organizations are putting more of a focus on their cybersecurity needs as they look toward technological innovation and ways to improve patient care.

A 2017 survey found that 92 percent of healthcare organizations plan to increase their technology spending for cybersecurity needs.

Over half of health systems said their organization’s cybersecurity spending will focus on identifying potential threats, according to the research conducted by the Pittsburgh-based Center for Connected Medicine (CCM), in partnership with the Health Management Academy (The Academy). Asset management, governance, risk assessments, and workforce education were all areas of potential threats, respondents stated.

A lack of talent (38 percent) and immature IT solutions (33 percent) were the top cybersecurity challenge areas for executives. Network security, consolidating IT systems, and maintaining security on disparate systems in healthcare were also key concerns, the survey showed.

Similarly, the 2017 HIMSS Cybersecurity survey revealed that more entities want to improve their data privacy and security measures. Having a dedicated individual in charge of security was found to help organizations in this endeavor.

Sixty percent of respondents said their organization employs a senior information security leader, such as a CISO. Entities that have such a security individual in place are more likely to adopt “holistic cybersecurity practices,” such as education and training or adopting the NIST Cybersecurity Framework.

“Quality, stress-tested cybersecurity programs are imperative to protecting provider organizations and the patients they care for,” HIMSS Health Information Systems Senior Director Rod Piechowski said in a statement. “This data is encouraging because it shows that many organizations are making security programs a priority; however, there is room for continued improvement.” 

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