According to the Health IT security report1, the first half of 2023 had over 39 million patient records compromised. When placed in the wrong hands, sensitive information such as patient health records, SSNs, prescriptions, personally identifiable information (PII), addresses, and other confidential information can put the Healthcare provider and the patient at great risk.
The breaches reported were hacking incidents by unauthorized users who gained access to Electronic Health Records (EHR) by breaking existing security protocols. Such security incidents brought to the fore the importance of adequate data security in the Healthcare sector, given its criticality and the sensitivity of the information it generates.
If you own a Healthcare facility or a related industry, cybersecurity is what you need to enhance to avoid data breaches and consequent loss of your organization’s reputation and market value.
The Healthcare sector is one of the most regulated sectors in the US, covering both information security and the entire lifecycle of operations, from procurement to distribution.
HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) governs the storage and administration of EHRs and data, with the entire Healthcare industry operations subject to compliance with FDA regulations.
The SAP S/4HANA landscape supports the healthcare sector in ensuring compliance and abiding by the rules and regulations set by regulatory bodies.
Healthcare and HIPAA
The HIPAA Security Rule is a specific part of HIPAA and provides the below regulations for securing electronically stored patient information.
- Ensure Data integrity, accessibility, and confidentiality of all electronic health records
- Identify and mitigate threats to the stored information
- Protect against unauthorized usage and disclosures
- Ensure complete compliance with security norms by the workforce
Healthcare regulatory compliance is critical, as the stakes involved are high. Even a slight deviation can lead to fatal consequences, which is the reason for the focus on regulatory compliance. The major challenge you face is ensuring the security and confidentiality of data, whether stored on-premise or on the cloud.
You also need a comprehensive ERP system that covers the entire gamut of operations, enabling optimized systems and workflows compliant with regulatory norms and leading to better productivity and profitability.
The Role of Cloud-based Solutions in the Healthcare Sector
The Healthcare sector has steadily adopted cloud-based storage and application environments as they seek greater digitization. The cloud model accords the opportunity to benefit from greater data security, as cloud solution providers offer a wide range of features to ensure data security and protection from unauthorized usage and malicious hacking attempts. Cloud-based solutions also provide remote access to data and applications, increasing productivity and connectivity.
Security features offered by cloud-hosted solutions:
- Access restrictions
- Password management
- Data encryption
- Virus protection
- Retention and destruction of data
- Faster incidence response and management
- Risk identification and mitigation
SAP S/4HANA is a widely used cloud-based ERP solution and offers a range of constituent applications that cover major business functions, along with extensible modules for specific needs of diverse business verticals. For the Healthcare sector, SAP offers products such as SAP Patient Management, Marketing Cloud, Qualtrics CE, Advanced Track and Trace for Pharmaceuticals, BO Enterprise, Analytics Cloud, and many more, giving end-to-end solutions for the complete needs of the Healthcare sector.
The S/4HANA Cloud is the core of the entire SAP environment and stores the critical data for operational processes and analytics. It uses hyperscalar providers to offer a Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Below are the major security aspects of S/4HANA Cloud and the distinct advantage they provide to the Healthcare sector to ensure HIPAA compliance.
Data security is provided by customer data isolation with a virtual ABAP Server and database for each tenant. The “Security Group” provides application isolation, which allows communication between different application instances belonging to the same tenant. Cross-tenant communication is prevented at the network level, which mitigates the risk of unauthorized tenant data access.
SAP S/4HANA Cloud provides encryption for both data-at-rest and in transit. Data-at-rest includes local and central file systems, backups, and databases, whereas data-at-transit consists of data movement between applications and has end-to-end encryption. The key management system (KMS) manages the cryptographic keys with a ‘segregation of duties’ guideline. It gives complete encryption of data-both at the storage level and while being shared and prevents encrypted data from unauthorized access.
Applications developed on the SAP S/4HANA cloud follow the secure software development lifecycle (SDLC) with an extensive focus on data security, privacy, and protection. They undergo in-depth risk analysis, testing processes, and assessment of security controls to ensure complete safety. All traffic to the applications is accessed through HTTPS, providing the secure movement of data.
Network security in SAP S/4HANA Cloud is enabled by dividing the network into zones and segments, with security controls for each zone. These controls work on the type of data and its interaction with a virtual backup cloud for data backups, administration, and internal systems.
The operational security team performs 24/7 monitoring of the database and infrastructure, securing administration access, taking backups, checking for vulnerabilities, simulating hackings, and mitigating risks. They also work on incident management and remediation, data breach notifications, and provide security patches and complete support to ensure the data is secure for business continuity.
The above features of SAP S/4HANA Cloud make it a preferred choice for having a cloud-based ERP system for the Healthcare sector, as it ensures compliance with the regulatory requirements of HIPAA. Having HIPAA compliance ensures that your Healthcare business builds trust and value among your customers and gives you a competitive edge.
If you want to enhance your security posture with SAP S/4HANA and ensure regulatory compliance, contact us, and our experts will be glad to help.