Friday, April 14, 2017

You Can Keep Your Compliance, I Have a Mission

Doctors practice very real, very tangible risk management every day when caring for patients. The decisions they make affect the wellbeing and the very lives of their patients. The trade-off between various treatment options, judgements about future patient behavior based on historical behavior, the upsides and downsides of surgical and pharmacological treatments vs the likelihood of behavior changes, and long list of considerations are based on risk assessment and are themselves part of risk assessment.

Patient care is a complicated and nuanced field, and risk management is core to managing the complexity. As such, doctors have a seasoned perspective on risk management that gives them a unique perspective on information security and compliance. What they do is telling. They reframe compliance and security with a question derived from their mission: What is the impact to patient care?

While it should be fairly clear to most that patient care is more important than compliance or information security, what is less often clear to practitioners is that the only framing in which to consider either compliance or information security is that of impact to patient care (so long as patient care is defined broadly enough). This highlights the need for something to bridge from compliance and information security to patient care; and that bridge is risk management.

Most doctors understand risk management innately, at least as well as, and perhaps even more intimately than those in the compliance, technology, and security fields. They haven’t been steeped in the myth of the “choice between security and functionality” and they are willing to have substantive conversations, often leading to “let’s do both” solutions. For all organizations, healthcare or otherwise, it comes down to mission and risks to the mission. If you are having a conversation where your ultimate goal is compliance or “great” security, you’re doing yourself and your organization a disfavor and a disservice.

Instead, ask “what is the impact to our mission?”

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