Shadow IT: Healthcare Industry Scourge or Opportunity for Growth?

In May this year, two New York City hospitals — New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center — were slammed with a whopping $4.8 million fine from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the biggest HIPAA fine in U.S. history. The hospitals were fined for failing to protect patient information under HIPAA privacy laws due to an incident in 2010 when the electronic health data of 6,800 patients were made public on the Internet. According to the HHS investigation, the incident unfolded because a Columbia faculty member attempted to deactivate a personally owned service that was connected to the hospital's network where the patient data resided. 

The moral of the story? As employee-owned technology permeates the healthcare industry, organizations need to get serious about secure data storage practices. The problem facing many healthcare IT departments is figuring out how to regulate data security in a world where many employees adopt their own mobile and cloud applications if company-provided apps are too difficult to use. What's commonly being referred to as "the consumerization of IT" or (more insidiously) "shadow IT" can mean major fines in the case of a HIPAA audit — or worse — a data breach. 

What's the solution? "IT needs to first understand that shadow IT operators are trying to do their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible," technology journalist Ryan Faas says. "Ideally that leads to engaging the operators and working to find effective and secure solutions that meet their needs." 

Read more at CITEWorld

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