Payers, providers, pharmaceutical organizations — lots of players are involved in the healthcare and life sciences (HLS) industry. All of them rely heavily on sensitive data, including personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), and other information governed by legislation like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and dependent on certifications from independent third parties such as HITRUST.
Because of all the red tape, the HLS industry has generally been slow to migrate from on-premise legacy systems. Now that the cloud has been a proven performer for years, however, many HLS organizations are looking to tap into its considerable advantages. In some cases, companies are opting to rely on both legacy systems and cloud-based platforms, but it’s an approach that can compromise many of the cloud’s benefits.
The Case for Leaving Legacy Behind
The HLS industry is a complex environment that processes a huge amount of sensitive data. Unfortunately, many organizations in this ecosystem continue to rely on outdated information management systems, some of which are no longer supported by the original provider. With no patches in the pipeline, every vulnerability means open season for attackers, which is why many cybercriminals specifically target HLS companies with legacy systems.
These legacy systems weren’t designed with integration in mind, which means they’re often at the center of a tangled mess of connection solutions. Part of the ongoing maintenance of these systems stems from the need for a business continuity plan above all else. A hospital can’t cease operations to pursue a digital transformation, so incumbent legacy systems continue to win reelection by default. Fortunately, as the productivity, collaboration, efficiency, and security advantages of the cloud become even clearer, some organizations are finally making the switch.
It won’t be easy. For HLS leaders, a successful digital transformation and the migration to cloud-based tools such as Salesforce will require a concerted effort. For migration to end in success, focus on the following five steps:
- Prioritize your people
No matter how innovative and robust a security solution might be, tech alone can’t shore up vulnerabilities and satisfy the many compliance demands in HLS. Even before you install software, you should begin to inculcate a culture of compliance by educating your employees. Identify some of the most common security risks and threats they will face, and explain the danger of simple oversights such as repeating login credentials. When tech solutions are built on a strong foundation of security, they’ll be far more effective.
- Document security steps
Decisions may seem obvious in the moment, but there could come a time months or years later when you can’t explain to auditors why something was done in a certain way. By keeping a record of all the decisions you make regarding security and the thought processes that led to those decisions, you help auditors spot shortcomings or areas for improvement. A record can also help the team make future decisions because you’ll see what steps have historically been worthy of repeating — and which you should avoid.
- Start with less sensitive data
There’s no reason to move all organizational data to the cloud in one migration. In fact, it’s a good idea to make the transition in stages. A gradual shift will allow your organization to learn its way around security parameters like user permissions and access policies without putting your most sensitive data at risk.
- Resist the temptation to take shortcuts
Many of the cloud security mistakes that have been made time and time again are simple misconfigurations intended to save time. In a large organization, for example, manually assigning specific permissions to each user takes a significant amount of time, so some well-meaning individual opts to give all users administrative privileges for efficiency’s sake. Now, when a disgruntled employee leaves, they can take your most valuable data to your main competitor. A cloud migration can be resource-intensive, but doing it right the first time can save far more trouble down the road.
- Embrace continuous change
The cloud moves at breakneck speed, and if you’re anticipating the semiannual software updates associated with legacy systems, you’ll never be able to keep up. In a cloud environment, security will be a continuous process of ongoing improvement. Although that requirement might sound like a burden, it also means your organization is benefiting from the latest security technologies.
When in doubt, give us a call. RevCult helps payers, providers, and pharma organizations take control of Salesforce security configurations to reduce risk. Migrating to the cloud can feel like a monumental undertaking, but the juice is worth the squeeze. Cloud platforms offer unprecedented flexibility and agility, can scale to meet any need, and are continuously updated to ensure they take advantage of the most innovative security enhancements. Follow the steps above to make sure your migration is a success.
Here's more to explore:
- NEW: How Healthcare Organizations Can Stay Ahead of Cybersecurity Threats Amid a Talent Shortage
- Read about 4 Data Governance Best Practices for Life Sciences
- Learn How HLS Leaders Can Secure Their Cloud Platforms
- See how Cloud Security Cockpit® makes it easy to implement, manage and prove Salesforce security controls
- Contact us to learn about a Salesforce Security Risk Assessment