PR provides preventive medicine for healthcare IT companies

Healthcare technology companies have a legal obligation to erect barriers to data breaches. They also should engage a healthcare IT public relations firm to develop a crisis plan in case breaches occur.

Data breaches can be expensive and, in some cases dangerous. According to the Ponemon Institute, an IT research center, computer breaches cost the healthcare industry more than $6 billion a year, with that number growing every year.

Medical records – medical files, billing information and insurance records — are targeted most often. They are a treasure trove of information and, because they are shared electronically among doctors and others, present numerous points of entry for nefarious hackers.

In addition to medical records, wireless medical devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps are at risk. Hackers could endanger the health of patients. In a 2013 interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” former Vice President Dick Cheney revealed he had his doctors disable the wireless capabilities of his heart implant as a security measure against a possible assassination attempt.

Serious breaches can destroy a company’s reputation and its relationships with clients. The U.S. Department of Health and Human services tracks breaches that expose the private health information of 500 or more individuals and posts each episode online. The damage can be long-lasting, even permanent.

It’s easy to see how computer breaches could ruin a healthcare technology company. An experienced healthcare IT public relations firm such as Ripley PR, however, can help during a crisis to reassure patients, customers and investors.

By developing a crisis communications plan that emphasizes a rapid response, honesty and accountability, a company can be prepared for a day that hopefully will never come.

If you own or manage a healthcare IT company, call us at 865-977-1973. The team at Ripley PR can help craft an effective plan for keep a crisis from becoming a catastrophe.

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