Medical Data: 5 Steps to Limit Loss, System Downtime and Explosion of Management Costs

In the health sector, it is essential to have quick access to the sometimes vital data of patients. If doctors can not obtain them, the quality of care can seriously suffer and lead to unpredictable consequences.

Storage and data protection are therefore fundamental in this sector. System downtime must be avoided at all costs, even in the event of a major crisis such as a natural disaster, a hardware failure or a cyberattack.

This is where the first challenges emerge: storage, protection, and intelligent data management are becoming increasingly complex, time-consuming, and costly for healthcare organizations.

Understanding the triple challenge (management, storage and data protection) for health

There are several reasons for this situation. For starters, the volume of medical data is growing at an exponential rate, especially as a result of efforts to scan all records (DMPs).

Diagnostic devices, such as CT scanners, MRIs and other X-ray machines, are also involved because they produce massive amounts of imaging data. As these technologies improve, the generated image files are of better quality, with higher resolution and thus more and larger size. As hospitals are generally required to keep these images for seven years, in accordance with disaster recovery requirements, their image archives can grow by 40% per year, according to AT & T’s ForHealth service.

The Internet of Things is another challenge these organizations face in their data management process. Connected devices, such as fitness monitors and medical sensors, for example, produce their own data streams, all of which must be stored, protected, and managed.

All of this is taken into account, even small hospitals or medical practices can quickly generate volumes of data to be stored in petabyte order. But the challenge does not stop there. As volume increases, the time, budget, and resources needed to store, protect, and manage vital patient data also increase.

 Healthcare companies need a data protection and management solution that provides consistent, uninterrupted access. It must be reliable, but also affordable, so as not to burden their budget. The task seems so immense.

The solution must also protect these organizations, subject to a growing number of attacks of various kinds, such as ransomware. For example, they can infect information systems or patients’ vital data and take them hostage.

Hospitals are particularly susceptible to this kind of extortion because of their reliance on information in their patients’ records. Without rapid access to systems, health professionals simply can not do their job. For hackers, hospitals are the perfect target because they can not risk the lives of their patients and are therefore more likely to pay ransoms.

That’s one of the reasons why the health care sector has suffered more ransomware attacks than any other industry in 2017, according to a report by Beazley Group, a global cybersecurity insurance company. [1] The report concluded that 45% of all ransomware attacks in 2017 targeted this area.

The good news is that the market offers solutions designed to manage increasing amounts of medical data in a secure and cost-effective manner, ensuring that quality of care is never endangered by lack of access to vital information. .

This is a 5-step strategy for healthcare companies to protect themselves against the triple threat of exploding management costs, system downtime, and loss of data integrity.

1: Converge primary and secondary data storage

To properly manage the data explosion, healthcare organizations must take an approach that provides comprehensive protection and storage services in a single, integrated and easy-to-use system. By integrating primary, secondary, and cloud-based data management capabilities, organizations can eliminate storage and data silos while reducing the risk of downtime.

2: Take advantage of cost-effective and scalable storage

Small and medium-sized hospitals and medical practices face many challenges, often identical to those of larger health providers, despite their lower budgets. That’s why they need scalable storage that adapts to their data needs. Health organizations should be able to start with a single node for a capacity of a few terabytes, and then seamlessly and seamlessly move to several petabytes without configuration or application changes.

3: Protect yourself against data degradation

Medical images, in particular, are highly vulnerable to data degradation. Silent alteration of imaging data is therefore a significant problem, aggravated when existing programs store files such as X-rays in an image communication and archiving system, without being able to detect that the data is compromised. As a result, the information read from the existing storage system can be corrupted and unusable. Health organizations therefore need modern data management solutions that can protect against this type of degradation.  

4: Prevent ransomware attacks

Data protection is one of the top priorities for health care companies, as they are under the constant threat of cyberattacks. These organizations need to use robust protection throughout the data lifecycle, avoiding unnecessarily complex management. The answer to this challenge lies in the immutable storage of objects. Modern healthcare companies solve this problem by adopting a storage solution that continuously protects information and takes snapshots of data every 90 seconds. Since the storage of objects is immutable, these snapshots are not affected in case of attack. Health organizations can therefore retrieve the latest version of their data, and thus thwart ransomware attacks.  

5. Determine a method for calculating ROI 

If it is not obvious to assign a value to health data, it may be useful to quickly estimate an ROI for the protection of these data. In the United States, for example, due to the rise in cyberattacks, hospitals are looking for insurance policies that can provide coverage for data breaches or data loss. During the risk assessment, each medical file is assigned a dollar value by the insurance companies, which can quickly cost tens of millions of dollars in contributions. However, these can be reduced when hospitals can demonstrate that they have effective data protection and management strategies. Recently, a health provider facing a premium of

With an appropriate data management solution, organizations in the healthcare industry can protect their data and reduce costs, but they can also more easily fulfill their intrinsic function: better care for their patients and save more lives.