The healthcare sector is one of the most regulated industries in the world. As a result, organisations within the healthcare industry have to follow strict standards and processes at all times. In addition, they need to adhere to these regulations and best practices in order to maintain certification.
The role of Information Technology (IT) has become increasingly significant in the healthcare industry, as technology has enabled healthcare providers to streamline processes and deliver services more efficiently. But even though IT is essential for running a successful healthcare organisation, it’s not easy to implement risk-proof IT governance measures.
What is IT governance?
IT governance refers to the strategic direction and management of the use of technology within a company. It’s an organisational approach that creates strategy and policy for IT systems, processes, and other aspects.
The main purpose of IT governance is to ensure that IT is used effectively to help achieve the organisation’s goals and objectives. As mentioned, the healthcare sector is highly regulated. This means that healthcare organisations must follow strict standards and processes at all times in order to remain compliant.
IT risks in healthcare
Poor network infrastructure: Poor network infrastructure can also have a negative impact on the functioning of a healthcare organisation. This can lead to poor data quality, high instances of data loss, and system downtime.
Data theft or breaches: Unauthorised access to Electronic Health Records (EHR) could release sensitive patient information, resulting in serious legal consequences or fines for the healthcare provider responsible for keeping them private.
System incompatibility: Healthcare IT systems are often quite unique, so it can be challenging to find a system that is compatible with the current infrastructure. This can result in delays and budget overruns during the implementation process.
Healthcare IT risk management
Healthcare providers must perform IT risk management in order to maintain an appropriate level of security and privacy. By identifying and mitigating these risks, healthcare providers can ensure they are taking the necessary steps to protect their patients’ data.
In addition to conducting regular cybersecurity scans and audits, healthcare providers should also implement a risk management plan to help identify and evaluate all potential IT security threats. This plan should include detailed information about resources that are available for IT security training, as well as any policies or protocols that are in place to address security incidents.
Understanding compliance regulations
Healthcare providers are required to adhere to compliance regulations and standards. These regulations are in place to ensure that sensitive data is handled correctly and that services are provided in a timely manner. This means that they must comply with a number of laws and regulations concerning the medical care they provide.
Australia’s Department of Health has set multiple standards for healthcare, and is assisted by regulators including Therapeutic Goods, Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, and more.
These regulators ensure healthcare compliance in several areas, including:
Understanding the regulations specific to your organisation is critical to develop company policies, procedures, and IT governance frameworks that align with those regulations.
Creating an IT governance framework
An IT governance framework can be defined as a set of policies and procedures that govern the management and use of IT resources to improve overall business performance. It should have clear and measurable goals, be consistent with internal IT policies, and provide the right balance between business needs, technology capabilities, and regulatory requirements.
It’s important for healthcare organisations to have an IT governance framework in place to ensure that all stakeholders are kept informed about the status of IT projects and workflows. This will help to reduce potential issues down the road such as data security breaches and unpaid invoices. It can also help to prevent situations such as accidental data loss or overspending on unnecessary software licences.
An effective IT governance framework consists of various components. These components all have to work together and support one another, in order to achieve optimal results.
Organisational structure: The organisational structure is one of the most influential factors for implementing an effective IT governance framework. Organisational culture, decision-making processes, and management styles have to be aligned with the structure.
Stakeholder engagement: Stakeholders are individuals who are affected by activities and incidents in an organisation. They are also individuals who have a vested interest in the organisation’s success. IT governance has to have the support of stakeholders to proceed and succeed.
Roles and responsibilities: The relationship between roles and responsibilities has to be clear and precise. This way, everyone will understand the level of authority they have. The roles and responsibilities involved with IT governance should align with roles and responsibilities at other levels of the organisation.
Create your IT governance framework with the experts
A well-implemented IT governance framework can help healthcare organisations reduce the risk of becoming victims of cyber-attacks or data breaches by identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities.
The IT experts at Itopia specialise in assisting healthcare providers optimise their IT environments, increase their cyber security posture, and ensure they are compliant with regulations at all times. Talk to them today and get started on your IT governance framework.