“We must strive for structural solutions to counter cyberattacks in healthcare.” 

Over a year ago, Kurt Gielen made the commitment to take a steering role in the focus group that is working on security challenges within the specific context of the healthcare sector. As he explains: “This group came about because a concrete need was felt within the Cyber Security Coalition, prompted by the rising number of cyberattacks on healthcare institutions. Just about every Belgian hospital has faced an attack in the recent past. We have become highly sought-after targets.” 

Community building 

“On top of this, we work with health data, which is obviously very sensitive information. Furthermore, the composition within our organisations is very diverse: just think of the high number of interns and of self-employed staff. As a result, a straightforward security policy is by no means obvious. Moreover, the available budgets and manpower are always limited, because cyber security is, of course, not the main occupation of a healthcare institution,” he states. 

This is precisely why knowledge sharing and community building are highly important to help counter security challenges within healthcare IT. “We know that the challenges will only get bigger and more complex. It makes no sense for every healthcare institution to start coming up with solutions to security issues on its own. We should strive for structural solutions to the existing problems and challenges. The time savings this will bring are essential to the functioning of our sector. We are trying to make as many people as possible within the community realise this – which is both the philosophy and the added value of our focus group.” 

Just the beginning 

The focus group is working hard to create a balanced offering that delivers insight and content around three central topics: dealing with external suppliers (or the relationship between security and supply chain), everything to do with policy, and the purely technical side of security. Kurt Gielen: “We try to translate all of this into interesting programmes at the quarterly focus group meetings, which are the cornerstone of our operation.” 

Kurt highlights the very positive response to these sessions. But, he adds, “At the same time, many healthcare institutions have not yet become members. In fact, we are bumping up against the limits of the non-committal model. Consequently, we need to think about ways to become more compelling, so we can achieve even more. We still have a very long way to go. This journey of discovery is not only interesting and instructive, but, above all, necessary. Especially because the upcoming AI revolution, with its own resulting load of security challenges, will force us to reinvent ourselves anyway,” he concludes. 

The other focus groups are thematic and are therefore by definition cross-sectoral. In that respect, we are a bit of an outlier. But healthcare will continue to become more technological in the future, and building a community around security is the only way to meet the challenges of tomorrow. 

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