Increase in security breaches in UK healthcare sector
As the healthcare sector moves to digitise processes and data, IT professionals in those organisations are managing an increasingly diverse portfolio of devices. New global research from SOTI, The Technology Lifeline: Charting Digital Progress in Healthcare, highlights the security and productivity challenges this is posing, with 79% of UK healthcare providers in frontline services experiencing at least one data breach since 2021.
According to the research, there was a 22% year-over-year increase for UK healthcare IT professionals who had experienced a data breach in the last two years. IT security incidents saw a growth of 14% in accidental data leaks from employees. This led to a rise in overall data leaks, with 50% of healthcare organisations experiencing a planned or accidental data leak from employees in the last year and 51% experiencing a data breach from an outside source or DDoS attack.
The survey of 1,450 healthcare IT professionals across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Netherlands and Australia, uncovered the evolving landscape of healthcare technology adoption, exploring the impact of increasing technology adoption, the range of devices used and the security risks and challenges.
The Proliferation of Unmanaged Devices in Healthcare Creates Security Vulnerabilities
Contributing to these data security challenges is the growing scale and diversification of device implementation across the healthcare sector. The report showed 44% of IT professionals reported an increase in the mix of devices (mobile devices, tablets, rugged devices and printers) used in their healthcare organisation in the past year. 33% of IT professionals also reported an increase in the use of personal devices to access company systems and networks.
The absence of direct management or monitoring by IT departments for any device used in the healthcare sector can pose significant data security risks. Without proper oversight and maintenance, device malfunctions or compatibility issues can undermine critical healthcare processes, hindering a worker’s ability to deliver timely and accurate care.
“In the healthcare industry, data security is far more than protocol – it is fundamental to patient trust and system integrity,” says Stefan Spendrup, VP of Sales, Northern and Western Europe at SOTI.
"Our research last year found that 88% of IT healthcare professionals in the UK had concerns around patient information being compromised but our new findings suggest that little progress has been made in addressing this," he says.
“Device management is becoming more and more complex. It requires urgent attention and adequate investment in resources to mitigate potential vulnerabilities and protect sensitive healthcare data.
"A reliable and efficient device management solution can deliver enhanced visibility, oversee devices used to offer patient care and significantly bolster device security, including the ability to remotely manage and shut down any devices or IoT endpoints during a security breach.”
The risks and inefficiencies posed by outdated or legacy systems in the healthcare sector were also noted by respondents. 37% of UK healthcare IT workers agreed that these devices and systems expose their networks to security attacks, with 35% claiming to spend too much time fixing issues with legacy IT.
Expansion of New Technologies But Device Downtime Must be Addressed
The report shows 95% of all IT professionals indicated that using new technologies was a priority to improve organisational efficiency and productivity. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality (VR) are being actively investigated in the healthcare sector, with three-quarters of healthcare organisations in research or implementation phases with these new solutions.
The benefits of automating manual processes was also noted by healthcare IT workers, with under half of those researched revealing that one or more manual processes used within their organisation would benefit from being automated.
- Collecting data during patient visits (44%)
- Accessing general medical information/resources (46%)
- Accessing and updating patient records (43%)
- Accessing test results (38%)
“This transition to greater automation and digitisation will provide a host of benefits to healthcare organisations and their patients, including faster and more effective care, reduced human errors and cost savings," says Spendrup.
"Again, security is paramount and it is also important to factor in the risks of increased downtime if these technologies are not managed correctly.
“On average, UK healthcare workers are experiencing close to three hours of device downtime per week, which impacts their ability to provide critical care," he says.
"Advanced diagnostic intelligence solutions can help healthcare IT professionals stay ahead of any performance issues, ultimately avoiding downtime and improving the provider-patient experience.”