This article is part of our Essential Guide: Essential Guide: Data Analytics in Healthcare

Healthcare providers should press on with digital transformation

Healthcare providers should continue digitisation efforts with security in mind amid looming cyber threats, says a top T-Systems executive

Healthcare service providers should not slow their Digital transformation efforts in the face of growing cyber threats.

Speaking to Computer Weekly in Singapore, Arkadiusz Czopor, managing director at T-Systems Asia South, said that with more patients demanding digital experiences, healthcare providers have little choice but to adopt digital technologies.

“When we go to hospitals, we expect similar experiences to when we are shopping or at the bank,” said Czopor, adding that in countries with an ageing population, hospitals will also need to automate their processes to cope with rising demand for healthcare.

But digitisation and automation come with potential risks to patients, which Czopor said can be mitigated if healthcare organisations focus on keeping interconnected systems operating smoothly while addressing cyber threats.

“If the systems are not working correctly and something goes wrong, a doctor could make a wrong decision based on wrong data and cause the death of a patient,” he said. “The risk of data leakage can also affect healthcare institutions if the systems are not secured.”

According to a recent study by Frost & Sullivan, cyber attacks could cost healthcare organisations in the Asia-Pacific region an average of $23.3m.

In July 2018, the Singapore government revealed that the non-medical personal details of 1.5 million patients had been illegally accessed and copied in a deliberate, targeted and well-planned cyber attack against the SingHealth public healthcare group.

In the aftermath of the attack, Singapore paused the development of new IT systems in the public sector for a few weeks and mandated stronger network security measures for organisations in critical sectors, such as aviation and financial services.

Australian healthcare organisations were also not spared from data breaches. Nearly a quarter of data breaches reported under Australia’s mandatory data breach regime took place in the healthcare sector, shortly after the notification rules took effect in February 2018.

Czopor said T-Systems, with its roots in Germany, which has one of the world’s strictest privacy regimes, is well positioned to help healthcare providers address their security challenges.

“We can leverage the security experience in Germany and make that available in Singapore, but only the pieces that make sense for local markets,” he said.

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Meanwhile, T-Systems has opened a healthcare competency centre in Singapore that will enable healthcare providers to test healthcare applications from SAP using their own data and see what a full implementation could look like.

The centre will offer a digital sandbox for healthcare providers to use to perform stress-testing, what-if scenario analysis and configuration testing for new deployments under the guidance of T-Systems’ experts.

For non-SAP customers, Czopor said T-Systems is open to partnering with other IT suppliers depending on the needs of its customers. “We are doing that for a nursing home in Singapore with different partners in a project that does not include SAP,” he said.

According to a Microsoft-IDC Asia-Pacific study, healthcare organisations embracing digital transformation have seen improvements of 14-21% in patient outcomes and disease prevention, as well as patient experience, integrated care coordination, cost reductions and innovation of care teams.

They also expect to reap further enhancements of at least 30% by 2020, with integrated care coordination expected to see the biggest gain.

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