Healthcare is an industry that often deals with different types of patients’ sensitive data. When you’re about to develop your healthcare custom digital product, you’re probably aware of the fact that healthcare data security is crucial in this industry. However, why this topic is so important when it comes to a healthcare organization? Let’s take a closer look at this topic.

Data security in HealthTech – what is it for?

When the internet was born, no one thought about data security. As the world began to digitize more and more, cyber attacks, data theft, and their use for evil purposes began to occur more and more frequently. Nowadays, increasingly aware users place great emphasis on how their data is protected. If you’re a medical software provider and you really care about your clients, you should take data protection seriously. The seriousness of the issue is shown by various research and statistics. The Healthcare Breach Statistics conducted by HIPAA’s journal has discovered that between the years 2009 and 2019 the number of data breaches increased from 18 to 510. According to The State of Ransomware in Healthcare 2021 conducted across 30 countries, which aim was to explore the topic of security threats deeply, the key findings were as follows:

  • 34% of healthcare organizations were hit by ransomware in the last year,
  • 65% that were hit by ransomware in the last year said the cybercriminals succeeded in encrypting their data in the most significant attack,
  • 44% of those whose data was encrypted used backups to restore data,
  • 34% of those whose data was encrypted paid the ransom to get their data back in the most significant ransomware attack,
  • However, on average, only 69% of the encrypted data was restored after the ransom was paid,
  • 89% of healthcare organizations have a malware incident recovery plan,
  • The average bill for rectifying a ransomware attack, considering downtime, people time, device cost, network cost, lost opportunity, ransom paid, etc. was US$1.27 million. While this is a considerable sum, it’s also the lowest among all sectors surveyed.

These not-very optimistic results lead us to the conclusion that the issue of cybersecurity should become a priority for medical software providers.

why data security is critical in healthcare

Types of HealthTech security standards

There are a few different types of laws in the HealthTech industry that protect patient data, depending on the region in which they apply.

GDPR – Europe

The law of General Data Protection Regulation was created and implemented in the year 2018 and was intended to manage the flow of data and protect the personal data of Europeans. Thus, every healthcare digital product is obliged to be GDPR compliant. Nowadays, patients are more and more aware of the importance of data security, that’s why they put a strong emphasis on the aspect of data security standards. Contrary to HIPAA, GDPR wasn’t customized precisely for mobile applications, that’s why its compliance regulations are much more universal.

At first, you as a healthcare provider are obliged to inform the users of your healthcare mobile about the process of collecting and administrating their data and your reasons for that procedure. Secondly, you have to obtain consent for handling their data and anonymize gathered patient records, allowing them at the same time to withdraw this consent at any time on their request. If there any data breach occurs, the user must also be informed about it.

HIPAA – United States

When it comes to data security in healthcare in the United States region, there was a law introduced called HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. When the HIPAA protection law should be applied? Every time a HealthTech application is released to the US market. Its goal is to ensure the protection of any health information and medical records of patients. How can you make your app HIPAA compliant?

  • personal medical data encryption (at the moment when it’s collected on the device and at the moment when it’s transferred to the server)
  • 2-factor authentication
  • systematic tests and updates
  • implementation of a feature that automatically logs off the users if they don’t use the app for some time

The penalty for breaking this law can be up to $ 1.5 million per violation.

PIPEDA – Canada

When you live in Canada, you have to deal with PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) when it comes to data security standards. According to this law, personal data includes names, ID numbers, health records, credit card numbers, etc. PIPEDA works similarly to GDPR. You as a healthcare software provider are committed to informing the users about collecting and processing their private data, your reasons for doing that, and of course, obtaining user consent for this process. Also, the data should be deleted if they’re not required anymore or at the direct request of the user.

why data security is critical in healthcare

Data security challenges in the HealthTech industry

The healthcare industry also has to face different challenges and issues when it comes to data security, for example:

  • Outdated infrastructure due to the high costs of its maintenance,
  • A growing number of cyber attacks with the increase in Electronic Health Records (digital version of a patient file for a single medical facility),
  • medical personnel is often unaware and untrained in the issues of cyber threats,
  • The connection of the healthcare industry to many different service providers and vendors is what makes it difficult to discover where did the healthcare data breach occur,
  • and more.


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Healthcare cybersecurity matters

Healthcare is one of the industries that are most vulnerable to cyber attacks due to the specificity of the collected data. That’s why it’s a matter of utmost importance to take care of healthcare data protection when developing a HealthTech digital product. However, if you’re curious about what other challenges you will face on your way to developing healthcare digital products, you can find it out from one of our previous blog posts or contact us directly!