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Secure Investment: Finding Funding for Health Care Cybersecurity

By Ralph Tomei

Today, online health care information is one of the most susceptible, and profitable, targets for cybercrime. The primary reason is that the rapid proliferation of connectivity and medical data has outpaced the implementation of rigorous cybersecurity around health care.

Imaging providers can find themselves at a heightened risk, compared with other specialties. The recent 2020 Unit 42 IoT Threat Report from Palo Alto Networks’ global threat intelligence team reports that 51% of threats for health care organizations involve imaging devices, disrupting the quality of care and allowing attackers to exfiltrate patient data stored on these devices.

But the outlook for imaging providers may not be as bleak as it seems. By investigating which security systems are best suited to safeguarding your organization and researching payment strategies and options, providers can be on the road to cybersecurity faster than you may think.

The Price of Security
Although there are essential, low-cost, everyday precautions that can help ward off cyberattacks, industry analysts and healthcare IT staff concur: To safeguard data and business viability, it’s important to ensure that cybersecurity receives a substantial part of the IT budget.

Beyond the primary role of safeguarding your data, there are additional valuable benefits from investing in cybersecurity. An effective security system costs less than the cumulative damages incurred by a cyberattack and can help do the following:

• enable continuity of operations;
• protect reputation and integrity; and
• maintain the value of your services.

Fortunately, there are numerous vendors of cybersecurity systems in today’s market, many of whom specialize in customized health care applications and provide training and support.

Although there is little question that allocating a portion of the budget to cybersecurity is of paramount importance to health care providers, acquiring a cybersecurity system represents a sizeable investment. It is likely that there will be questions around how to pay for a solution. The good news is, there are several options for handling the expense, including purchase, subscription, or payment plans.

Purchasing a cybersecurity solution may seem like the most direct approach, although, depending on your business strategy and cash flows, it may diminish capital reserves unnecessarily. Using a subscription program can lower cash outlay and provide convenience. For some, a customized payment plan is the best of both worlds because it also offers convenience, as well as a full range of additional features, including the following:

• payments tailored to your budget and initiatives;
• flexible terms, ie, monthly, quarterly, annual, or multiyear;
• enhanced cash flow management;
• technology upgrades and protection from obsolescence;
• contract flexibility and control;
• total solution coverage (bundling), including installation, training, and support costs;
• simplified processing; and
• potential tax advantages.

For many imaging providers, acquiring cybersecurity equipment via a payment plan is the most viable option because it keeps the initial cash outlay low, while also providing this wider range of benefits.

Keep Imaging Equipment Current
In addition to investing in technology solutions specifically designed to help prevent a security breach, keeping imaging equipment current is another way to help reduce the risk of cyberattack. In fact, the same Palo Alto study shows that 83% of medical imaging devices are running on unsupported operating systems, leaving imaging providers particularly vulnerable to attacks.

Just as with financing cybersecurity technology, there are many benefits to financing imaging equipment itself, such as the ability to add or upgrade equipment while conserving cash. Furthermore, recent innovations in equipment finance give health care providers additional flexibility when it comes to financing. Newer alternative, or “nonstandard,” financing options are designed to be more solutions based and are often the result of a collaboration between the equipment manufacturer, various service providers, the equipment finance company, and other potential partners.

Nonstandard finance agreements can include the cost of equipment, as well as training, software, and services, and can also include provisions that allow providers to skip or defer payments or to match payments to cash flow. All of this can make it easier for providers to invest in new or upgraded technology and keep software and systems running on the latest versions to help mitigate against security threats.

Regardless of what type of equipment your practice needs or which financing option works best for your situation, it is important to find a capital provider with proven financial stability and demonstrated expertise in health care and IT asset experience. Other things to look for in a finance partner include the ability to offer an immediate capital solution plus a scalable, long-term strategy and a combination of both technical acumen and medical-asset experience.

Consider a provider that offers a consultative approach that aligns with your business goals and is comfortable and experienced with innovative financing structures. A seasoned capital provider should also understand new technologies, help expedite equipment acquisition, and provide your business with options to tailor payment solutions with built-in flexibility. In summary, try to find a partner that not only expedites equipment acquisition but also works strategically to help you meet your business goals.

Taking the extra steps to find a cybersecurity solution and a financing option that meet your practice’s unique needs can help pave the way for peace of mind—and continued patient care—well into the future.

— Ralph Tomei is vice president of program management at Key Equipment Finance. He is responsible for managing the relationship and strategic direction of vendor programs in the health care sector. He can be reached at ralph.tomei@key.com.

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