Why Cybersecurity Checks are a Must Before Acquiring or Merging with Another Hospital

By Maliha Charania

Merging with or acquiring another hospital can be an exciting step toward expanding your services and improving patient care. However, in today’s tech-centric world and the rise in cyber threats targeting healthcare sector, this process also brings potential risks. Ensuring you conduct a thorough cybersecurity due diligence assessment is vital. Here’s why this step is so important. 

Keeping Patient Data Safe 

Imagine merging with another hospital and then discovering a major data breach that exposes thousands of patient records. Patient data is incredibly sensitive, and a breach can lead to severe consequences, including hefty fines and loss of patient trust. Conducting a cybersecurity assessment helps ensure that the hospital you’re merging with has strong security measures in place, protecting patient data and maintaining trust. 

Getting the Full Picture of Cybersecurity Health 

Before joining forces with another hospital, you need to know how robust their cybersecurity is. A comprehensive assessment will uncover any vulnerabilities or gaps in their current security setup. This way, you won't inherit problems that could compromise the security of your merged operations. Knowing these details upfront allows you to plan and address potential issues before they become major headaches. 

Evaluating How They Handle Cyber Incidents 

When a cyberattack hits, the speed and effectiveness of your response can make all the difference. Assessing the incident response capabilities of a potential partner reveals their readiness to handle such events. Do they have a plan in place? Are they equipped to detect and respond to threats quickly? Understanding these factors helps ensure both organizations can collaborate effectively in the event of a cyber incident. 

Ensuring Compliance with Regulations 

Healthcare organizations must comply with strict regulations concerning data privacy and security like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Failure to meet these regulations can result in significant penalties. A cybersecurity due diligence assessment ensures that the potential partner adheres to all relevant regulations. This not only protects you from legal issues but also maintains the trust of patients and stakeholders. 

Managing the Risks of Unknowns 

Every hospital system has its own set of unknown risks, which can be challenging to identify without a detailed assessment. These unknowns can include outdated software, unpatched vulnerabilities, or legacy systems that are no longer supported. A cybersecurity due diligence assessment helps uncover these hidden risks, ensuring that they are addressed before they can cause harm. 

Inheriting Third-Party Vendor Risks 

Hospitals rely heavily on third-party vendors for various services, from medical equipment to IT support. However, these vendors can also be a weak link in your cybersecurity defenses. When merging with another hospital, you inherit their third-party vendors, many of whom may not have gone through a thorough security assessment either during onboarding or on a recurring basis. This can introduce new vulnerabilities to your system. A comprehensive cybersecurity assessment includes evaluating the security practices of these third-party vendors, ensuring they adhere to the same high standards as your own organization. This helps prevent potential security breaches that could arise from third-party vulnerabilities. 

Smooth IT System Integration 

Merging IT systems from different hospitals can be complex and risky. A thorough cybersecurity assessment identifies potential integration challenges and provides insights into the best practices for secure data migration and system integration. This proactive approach helps prevent security gaps that could be exploited during the transition period, ensuring both organizations can continue to operate securely and efficiently. 

Considering Financial Risks 

Cybersecurity risks aren't just about data breaches; they have direct financial consequences. Data breaches can result in fines, legal fees, and remediation costs, not to mention the revenue losses from operational disruptions. By conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment, you can uncover hidden liabilities and better understand the financial risks. This knowledge is crucial for making informed decisions and negotiating terms that reflect the true value and risks of the deal. 

How We Can Help 

Conducting a comprehensive cybersecurity due diligence assessment requires specialized knowledge and expertise. That’s where we come in. Our team of cybersecurity professionals at Meditology Services is here to assist you with your due diligence needs. We offer tailored assessments that evaluate the cybersecurity posture, incident response capabilities, regulatory compliance, third-party risk posture and integration strategies of potential acquisition or merger partners. By partnering with us, you can ensure that your acquisition or merger is conducted with the highest level of security, protecting your organization, patients, and stakeholders from potential cyber threats. 

In conclusion, cybersecurity due diligence assessments are critical for any hospital system considering an acquisition or merger. They provide valuable insights into the security posture of potential partners, help identify and mitigate risks, ensure regulatory compliance, and facilitate secure IT integration. With our expert guidance, you can navigate the complexities of cybersecurity due diligence with confidence, ensuring a successful and secure transition. 

For more information on how we can assist you with your cybersecurity due diligence or any other cybersecurity and risk management needs, please contact us today. 

About the Author 

Maliha Charania, MSIS, MSCS, HITRUST | Director, Risk Advisory Services 

Maliha leads Risk Advisory Services, drawing on over 14 years of expertise in IT security and risk management. Her leadership includes designing, spearheading, and successfully implementing global initiatives within the healthcare, financial, and academic sectors. Widely acknowledged as a Subject Matter Expert in IT security and compliance, Maliha has provided pivotal support to numerous healthcare providers, business associates, and payers worldwide. 

Her profound technical knowledge spans various stringent standards and regulations, encompassing HIPAA, GDPR, ISO, NIST, and HITRUST. Maliha has been instrumental in conducting, leading, and supporting numerous healthcare organizations through due diligence assessments during acquisitions or mergers. Her contributions ensure thorough cybersecurity evaluations and seamless integration. 

Maliha’s distinguished reputation stems from her adept blend of consulting prowess and hands-on international experience, firmly establishing her as a leader in the realms of Risk Management and Cybersecurity. 

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