How a holistic governance framework and platform can help healthcare organizations address patient centricity, cybersecurity, and climate neutrality

The healthcare industry is being challenged to reinvent itself along multiple fronts and to advance its place in the digital-first, customer-centric, socially and environmentally conscious era.

During an August Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored jointly by KPMG and ServiceNow, three healthcare technology specialists discussed how healthcare organizations can earn the trust of their stakeholders through a steadfast focus on patient centricity, cybersecurity and climate neutrality. Panelists were:

  • Kirby Kleeberg, Director, Enterprise Risk, and ESG and Program Management, KPMG LLP
  • Anurag Rai, Partner and Cybersecurity, KPMG LLP
  • Vishakha Sant, Global Head, Healthcare Provider Industry, ServiceNow

Three key takeaways were:

  1. Multiple market trends are converging to create new risks for healthcare organizations. Those risks include workforce shortages linked to burnout; elevated expectations as patients increasingly view healthcare through a consumer lens; security threats that accompany the digitization of healthcare; pressures to make good on environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments and avoid reputational damage; and regulatory forces such as the SEC's climate disclosure guidelines and the recently signed Inflation Reduction Act. "All of these factors have a profound impact on the ultimate end game, which is earning the trust of our stakeholders — patients, providers, investors and regulators," Ms. Sant said.
  1. Viewing healthcare's mission through an ESG lens helps address those risks organically. Regulators, investors, patients and other stakeholders are paying close attention to how organizations perform from an ESG standpoint. In response, on environmental risks, action is primarily focused on reducing carbon emissions. "There's a huge compliance risk associated with this that's ever growing and creating a big sense of urgency when it comes to reporting on emissions," Mr. Kleeberg said.

On social issues, organizations are looking at extending care to the home, and to rural and other hard-to-reach locations. Doing so improves health access, equity and equality, while reducing costs by enabling telehealth visits for low-acuity patients that do not require a physical visit.

On data governance risks, such as security breaches that can compromise both patient privacy and health outcomes, those were almost unheard of as recently as five years ago, Mr. Rai noted. "The slow pace of digital transformation that major healthcare systems are experiencing in terms of investing in their technology stack is contributing to this scenario."

Other governance risks ensue from moving paper-based processes online, the proliferation of interconnected digital devices and HIPAA regulations around handling sensitive patient information.

To cope with those risks, organizations are advised to practice good cyber hygiene; that includes addressing vulnerabilities in a timely manner and putting firewalls in place, as well as ensuring full visibility into how patient data moves through the health system. "You've got to have a very solid foundation on how to govern as well as manage the security side of data as well as privacy," Mr. Rai said. Your stakeholders expect privacy and security in addition to quality healthcare, and they need to trust that you can provide that.

  1. Companies that manage ESG risks well can earn stakeholder trust and create a solid platform for growth. What astute management of ESG risks boils down to is inspiring stakeholder trust. However, to encompass all of the risk areas that must be managed, organizations need a common governance framework that brings together the often-siloed functions responsible for each category of risk. An integrated approach such as the one conceived of by KPMG and ServiceNow makes this harmonization possible.

By tackling patient centricity, cybersecurity and climate neutrality through an integrated risk-management approach, organizations can mitigate risks, become ESG leaders and gain resilience for the future while earning the trust of their stakeholders.

Some or all of the services described herein may not be permissible for KPMG audit clients and their affiliates or related entities.

The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act upon such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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