Top 3 IT Challenges in Healthcare 2024

In 2024, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the healthcare sector face unique IT challenges that can impact patient care and operational efficiency, ranging from enforcing data security and compliance to adapting to new technology and managing complex IT infrastructure.

As a healthcare provider, IT is your lifeline, but it can also be a battle. Cyber security threats, outdated systems, and a skilled IT team shortage can quickly become overwhelming. That is on top of juggling day-to-day patient care, finances, and managing appointments. 

If left untreated, however, these challenges can become just as problematic over time, and impact your ability to deliver quality care, protect patient data, and optimize operations.

In this blog, we detail the top 3 IT challenges in healthcare in 2024, to help you better understand what needs to be addressed and why, and how your SMB can best address them.

1. Cyber Security

The SMB and enterprise healthcare industry is unfortunately a prime target for cyber attacks due to the sensitive nature of patient data and low adherence to cybersecurity best practices

Cyber security has risen to become the top IT challenge for healthcare businesses for numerous reasons. The HIPAA Journal, for example, lists budgetary pressures, continuing difficulty in recruiting skilled IT security professionals, and confusion around how to enhance cyber resilience as the main struggles of the healthcare industry around cyber security today.

As a healthcare SMB, your main objective is to focus on your patients, so it’s understandable if you lack an IT department or the ability to comprehensively attend to cyber security posture. However, failing to attend to this issue can result in some significant consequences. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the healthcare sector has seen a 93% increase in big data breaches and 278% increase in cyber attacks from 2018 to 2023, which has resulted in poorer patient outcomes and delays to diagnosis and treatment.

Data breaches can also lead to loss of patient trust, hefty fines for non-compliance with regulations like the HIPAA, and potential legal ramifications.

Most SMBs struggle with limited resources to invest in robust cyber security measures, with only 14% prepared to face cyber attacks, according to an Accenture Cybercrime study. If your business falls into this category, it’s imperative you take steps to improve your security and avoid the outcomes that have burdened other healthcare practices in recent years.

If you don’t have an IT team or the budget for one, managed service providers (MSP), or managed IT services with cyber security expertise offer a cost-effective and efficient solution to improve your security by providing access to advanced cyber security solutions and expertise at a fraction of the cost of in-house management. 

Regular security assessments, 24/7 monitoring, and compliance management can safeguard your patient data and ensure regulatory adherence in the long-term. 

Most importantly, MSPs can take the entire burden of IT and cyber security operations off your hands, so you can focus on your patients first and foremost.

2. Modernization

Modernization through digital transformation has been a hot topic in the healthcare industry following the coronavirus pandemic. In a global State of Healthcare report by HIMSS, 99% of health system leaders in the US and 95% of respondents from Germany, New Zealand, UK and Australia all agree that healthcare organizations need to actively invest in digital transformation.

At first glance, compared to cyber security, it appears many healthcare organizations have followed through with addressing the challenge of modernization. Digital transformation spending in healthcare surpassed $1.3 trillion globally, and 92% of healthcare professionals achieved better performance from undergoing transformation, according to a Deloitte study.

However, despite such progress, digital transformation is easier said than done for many.

A lack of clear strategy, resistance to change, and lack of knowledge on the organizational impact to digital transformation are lingering barriers to modernization for healthcare businesses (via Gitnux). 

The main challenge of modernization for healthcare comes down to aging infrastructure. Outdated hardware and software systems cripples efficiency and makes it harder to manage patient records, organize appointments and deliver better patient experiences. For healthcare companies in particular, undergoing a systems upgrade without disrupting workflows is particularly challenging, not yet considering the common lack of in-house IT support to do so.

For SMBs with smaller IT budgets in general than enterprise healthcare institutions, planning and then implementing a technology modernization project is a lot on your own. Especially if you are still brushing up on the basics around cloud computing and other emerging technologies. 

As with cyber security, managed IT service providers are your best option to receive support for a digital transformation project. MSPs have the specific expertise to help your healthcare SMB plan your modern workplace project and implement upgrades to IT infrastructure on your behalf, and manage costs of each project based on your requirements and budget. 

With those burdens handled, your practice can have peace of mind with each upgrade and focus on patient care.

Managed IT Services help improve data management for healthcare

3. Data analytics and data management

Data management and data analytics pose a critical challenge for SMBs in healthcare. 

Approximately 30% of the world’s data volume is generated by the healthcare sector, with said data forecasted to experience a compound annual growth rate of 36% by 2025, outpacing many other industries, according to a study by Arcadia. That’s a lot of information to manage.

Data is also the lifeblood of businesses in terms of being able to make intelligent business decisions. More than 9-in-10 healthcare professionals consider access to quality data critical. Yet Arcadia found less than 60% of healthcare companies use their data for decision-making.

The challenge of data for healthcare comes down to resources and expertise, with 71% of healthcare companies in the Arcadia study citing competing priorities; 58% highlighted staffing challenges, and 47% said budgets were insufficient to invest in or upgrade an analytics platform.

For healthcare SMBs even smaller than the respondents in the study, it’s a common scenario to lack the resources, time and expertise necessary to effectively harness data for improved patient outcomes and operational efficiency, and manage it without being overwhelmed. 

The best way to start organizing your data and learning how to perform data analysis is to defer to an expert. If you lack someone in the business experienced in data analysis, it’s best to seek assistance from managed IT service providers specializing in data solutions and services

As with cyber security and digital transformation, data is a big focus on certain MSPs. Getting up-to-speed with all of the data analytics vendors out there and implementing such a solution requires the right knowledge and expertise to ensure everyone throughout your practice understands the importance of your business data, and the right way to use it – particularly given the many data compliance and regulatory complexities unique to the healthcare industry.

Next steps: Choosing the right MSP for your healthcare IT challenges

Partnering with managed IT service providers is ultimately the most cost-effective and efficient way to get your SMB healthcare practice up-to-speed with the latest best practices, solutions and training surrounding the core 3 challenges of cyber security, modernization and data.

By recognizing these challenges, you can begin your journey toward researching the best MSP partner to implement an effective resolution for your business, and ensure a secure, efficient, and technologically advanced environment for your small practice and your customers.

The best MSPs offer customized, specially tailored IT solutions to your industry. SparkNav’s Managed IT services offer strategic IT solutions centered around SMB healthcare challenges, with proven expertise across cyber security, digital transformation and data analytics. Learn how we can help address any IT issues your practice currently faces by speaking to our team today.

Robert Griffin
Robert Griffin
As COO, Robert Griffin plays an instrumental role in aligning operational excellence with strategic goals by leveraging his decades of experience in enterprise leadership. With deep knowledge and expertise in security, governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), and AI, his insights are often shared through thought leadership channels, including LinkedIn and blogs. → Follow Robert on LinkedIn.