6 Reasons to Conduct a Comprehensive Healthcare Risk Assessment (CHRA)
AUTHOR: Samuel Hinson, Drummond Leader for Cybersecurity Services
The healthcare industry has long been a target for cyberattacks due to patient data’s sensitive and valuable nature; there have been numerous high-profile data breaches and the exposure of hundreds of millions of patient records.
Healthcare organizations must be proactive in identifying and mitigating potential risks to prevent these incidents from occurring. Conducting a Comprehensive Healthcare Risk Assessment (CHRA) is one essential step in improving patient data security. The primary objective of a CHRA in healthcare is to identify any deficiencies against the industry’s well-defined standards or requirements, such as those overseen or developed by NIST, ISO, HIPAA, HITECH or HITRUST. A risk assessment provides remediation plan recommendations and helps organizations improve their compliance preparedness.
Here are six reasons why every healthcare organization should conduct a CHRA:
1. Identify potential security gaps
A CHRA allows organizations to identify potential security gaps and vulnerabilities in their systems and processes. This could include outdated software, weak passwords, or unsecured data storage.
2. Ensure compliance with industry regulations
Healthcare organizations are subject to a variety of regulations, such as HIPAA and HITRUST, that mandate specific security and privacy requirements. A CHRA helps organizations ensure they are meeting these requirements and avoid costly penalties for noncompliance.
3. Prevent costly security incidents
Cyberattacks can result in significant financial losses for healthcare organizations. The average cost of healthcare data breach rose to $7.1M in 2022. Conducting a risk assessment to help shore up security is a fraction of this cost. Improving your ability to quickly respond to breaches reduces recovery costs. Breach prevention helps you avoid recovery costs and potential penalties all together.
4. Organizational peace of mind
A CHRA’s proactive approach to risk management helps organizations identify and address potential risks before they become security incidents. Identifying the need for specific technical safeguards, and implementation of those safeguards, can provide your front-line employees and executives with peace of mind that their systems are secure as possible.
5. Protect sensitive patient data and trust
The primary focus of a CHRA is to protect sensitive patient data. Patients need to trust their healthcare organizations to keep their most sensitive personal information safe.
In 2022, a healthcare group experienced a data breach that affected over 2 million patients and their PHI, including full names, diagnoses, treatment information, Social Security numbers, provider information, billing information, medical record numbers, dates of birth and addresses. As a result, the healthcare group had to re-evaluate its current safeguards, such as risk assessments and plans to avoid future breaches of PHI. They also had to mitigate reputational damage and develop a plan to reestablish patient trust.
6. Gain a competitive advantage
Healthcare organizations that can prove their commitment to data security and compliance by conducting regular CHRAs to enhance their security safeguards have a competitive advantage over organizations who do not frequently conduct risk assessments and are potentially more vulnerable to attacks.
Identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities ensures organizations can take proactive measures to mitigate those risks and improve the overall security of sensitive and protected data. Conducting a CHRA helps to ensure compliance with industry regulations, prevent costly security incidents, and enhance patient trust.
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