90% Of Healthcare IT Pros Raising Cyber Security Budget

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Dan Gunderman

Yet again, cyber security has made its presence known. Health systems executives placed it as a top priority for 2018, ahead of artificial intelligence (AI) and other burgeoning technologies.

Respondents indicated that they will be seeking proven solutions – ones that can impact the enterprise from the outset. This affords the health systems the ability to monitor active cyber threats. New findings suggest that the cyber security spend trumps more innovative technology, such as wearables.

The results come from a survey called “Top of Mind for Top U.S. Health Systems 2018,” carried out by the Center for Connected Medicine in partnership with the Health Management Academy. 

In the report, nine out of 10 leaders in healthcare indicated that they will increase the cyber security technology spend in the new year, a move which will allow them to stay ahead of new and evolving threats.

While the findings go hand in hand with other reports about the climbing cyber security spend, the results show that the vertical has taken precedence amongst other rising technologies like AI – despite the swarm of headlines about its capabilities.

It seems health systems executives are not quite sold on new tech’s ROI, whereas they are firmly planted in provable cyber security solutions. This decision is particularly crucial in an industry containing patient data and scores of other sets holding personally identifiable information (PII).

See Related: Threat Intelligence Market To Rise Dramatically

On the matter, Rasu Shrestha, MD, a radiologist and chief innovation officer for UPMC, told Healthcare IT News that he was surprised about the standing of AI in the survey, given its play in the media. He said he doesn’t expect a big AI spend amongst health systems execs in 2018.

Outside of cyber security, the report also polled: consumer-facing technology, predictive analytics, virtual care and AI.

Shrestha said it’s crucial for industry leaders to separate fact from fiction (or, reality from hype) when making these budgetary decisions.

Another polled question on enterprise security was: “Ransomware: Are health systems opening bitcoin wallets?” Seventeen percent of the respondents said “yes,” while another 17% were undecided. Twenty-two percent indicated they were unsure, while 44% said “no.”

What’s more, two-thirds of those surveyed said that they will be boosting their non-C-Suite cyber security ranks in the coming year. This comes amid a burning talent crisis in the industry.

See Related: State Of The Union: Layer Security Or Prep For Legal Battles

As recently revealed by Gartner and reported by CSHub, the overall cyber security spend (beyond healthcare) is expected to increase by 8% in 2018, to a whopping $96.3 billion.

Many believe the surge is due to different factors, a few of which include the sheer number of breaches, anxiety about said breaches and emerging technology to detect threats and handle incidents in real time.

Further reasons for the boost in cyber security spending include looming regulations, buyer mindset and the ongoing “digital transformation” efforts undertaken at the enterprise level.

As previously reported, Ruggero Contu, research director at Gartner, attributed much of the spending to organizational response to mega-breaches, affecting top-tier companies like A.P. Moller-Maersk, FedEx, Equifax, etc.

Despite that, two Cyber Security Hub Editorial Advisory Board members in the healthcare arena recently told the outlet in a Q&A that the budget for security has generally decreased (beyond healthcare) or is flat for 2018. Another EAB member, who administers IT security roadmap programs, indicated that looming FTC lawsuits makes the argument easier for enterprises to increase their cyber spend.