Special thanks to Tapan Mehta, Global Leader—Healthcare Industry Strategy and Solutions, Palo Alto Networks, for his collaboration and contribution to this blog post.

We see clouds on the horizon for healthcare organizations ... the good kind. Hybrid, multi-cloud environments, to be precise. The kind that reduce costs, enhance flexibility and enable remote work and services while also helping organizations get closer to their customers.

Cloud is inevitable, really, no matter what the industry, including healthcare. According to Gartner, more than 85% of organizations will embrace a cloud-first principle by 2025. In fact, the analyst group said, cloud is so important that it will become essential to fully execute digital strategies.  Accenture research shows that up to 60% of healthcare CIOs and CISOs recognize the security benefits of the public cloud—and over 66% are in the process of shifting to cloud services.

Cloud facilitates the development of applications and technologies such as electronic medical records, mobile apps, patient portals, IoT and IoMT and big data analytics. It provides agility, scalability and flexibility, which in turn improves patient outcomes and the entire decision-making process for the organization.

The upshot: Healthcare organizations that want to stay competitive should move quickly.

So, what's the catch?

There isn't any. A hybrid multi-cloud infrastructure offers the ability to use, identify and monitor information across the entire continuum of care through a single pane of glass, simplifying and accelerating intelligence at the point of care and improving collaboration among clinicians. In healthcare and research, cloud—hybrid in particular—is ushering in a new era as providers and researchers take advantage of the best features of each major cloud provider while avoiding vendor lock-in. In research alone, hybrid cloud is driving breakthroughs in genomics, cell imaging, electron microscopy, drug discoveries and disease prediction.

A lingering concern

Unfortunately, fears about security have been holding healthcare organizations back when it comes to cloud. To show how modern healthcare organizations can make security an advantage when moving to hybrid clouds, let's dive right into a real-world example.

Working with one of the nation’s most prestigious hospital systems, Accenture and Palo Alto Networks conducted a no-cost Secure Cloud Express diagnostic scan covering all four of the hospital system’s cloud environments — Azure, AWS, GCP and Oracle. Palo Alto Networks’ Prisma Cloud identified hundreds of misconfigurations that could have led to compliance issues and security vulnerabilities. In addition, its Xpanse tool identified the extent of the attack surface, attack surface risks and ‘shadow IT.’ As a result, the hospital system expects significant time savings and risk reduction.

This is just one example of how Palo Alto Networks and Accenture work together to provide technology and security capabilities that enable business transformation—improving network performance and ensuring consistent security, reducing security rework and costs and accelerating time to market for new digital services.

How to get there

Take a holistic approach to cybersecurity risk management and the capabilities, processes and staffing. This includes:

  • Creating a common approach to security across all environments.
  • Designing base security controls to secure a 'landing zone' on the cloud solution provider's platform.
  • Spelling out, in an integrated way, who is authorized to operate in the environment and what they are allowed to do. In other words, orchestrate identity management across all clouds and platforms, including on-prem.
  • Shifting security to the 'far left' so it is considered from the beginning, not at the end.
  • Once operating, continuously assessing and analyzing security incidents, using artificial intelligence and user behavior analytics to, for example, reduce insider threats.

Bottom line

Without question, multi-cloud is a necessity. To smooth out the process, organizations should consider cybersecurity from the beginning. Consider it a must, not an afterthought.

Learn more about how the Accenture and Palo Alto Networks partnership helps companies move to the cloud securely.

Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Technology and Operations services and Accenture Song—all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 721,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities. Visit us at accenture.com.

Accenture Security

Accenture Security is a leading provider of end-to-end cybersecurity services, including advanced cyber defense, applied cybersecurity solutions and managed security operations. We bring security innovation, coupled with global scale and a worldwide delivery capability through our network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Helped by our team of highly skilled professionals, we enable clients to innovate safely, build cyber resilience and grow with confidence. Follow us @AccentureSecure on Twitter or visit us at www.accenture.com/security.

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This document is produced by consultants at Accenture as general guidance. It is not intended to provide specific advice on your circumstances. If you require advice or further details on any matters referred to, please contact your Accenture representative.

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Salwa Rafee

Global Managing Director – Healthcare Security, Accenture

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