29 Jul Why healthcare organisations need robust data disaster recovery plans
Health data is unique in its sensitivity and value, especially when it comes to protecting patient privacy. Data is also what healthcare organisations like the NHS run on. This is why having a robust data management plan is absolutely critical in healthcare.
But alongside the responsible processing, storage and management of health data, organisations also need to plan for the worst. What happens if critical data is lost, leaked or stolen? This is where a robust data disaster recovery plan comes to the rescue.
What are the risks?
Without watertight procedures for data backup and recovery, healthcare organisations are extremely vulnerable to all kinds of risks. These include:
Ransomware and cyberattacks
Patient health data is considered highly valuable by those who would want to steal it, so medical facilities are routinely targeted by cyberattacks. This has only worsened since the pandemic, with common attacks including stealing Covid-19 test results, shutting down IT networks and removing access to electronic health records.
And research by Sophos found that hospitals are far more likely to be targeted by ransomware attacks in particular. This is because they’re less likely to be able to defend against such attacks, and less likely to back up their data.
The cost of a ransomware attack can be eye-watering, not to mention the reputational damage and breach of patient confidentiality. A notable example was in the US, when the private University of Vermont Medical Center lost $50m in revenue alone when hit by a 2020 ransomware attack
The human cost of downtime
Data is essential for decision-making within healthcare organisations. If data is lost, this can cause delays in treatment and poorer outcomes to patients. It effectively puts patients at risk, because timely data-backed decisions can’t be made in confidence.
The financial cost of data recovery
Retrieving essential data costs both time and money, unless a backup or disaster recovery plan is in place. Organisations may need to hire a third-party specialist to recover lost data, which could come with extremely high fees. It also causes disruption, which affects performance, productivity and the quality of service for patients.
New healthcare data strategy launched in the UK
One new development which should strengthen data management planning within the NHS is the UK government’s new healthcare data strategy. Announced by the former health secretary MP Sajid Javid in June 2022, the government has published a new policy paper – ‘Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data’.
It lays out plans to create secure data environments within public sector healthcare which maintain the highest level of cyber security. The strategy also aims to improve public trust in the NHS’ use of data and give healthcare professionals the information they need to deliver the best possible care. Plus, to empower researchers with the data they need to develop life-changing treatments and diagnostics.
Hiring for a public or private healthcare organisation, or searching for your next role? Get in touch with our healthcare recruitment specialists here at Linq Healthcare.