The Pandemic Accelerated Transformative Change in Third-Party Risk Management

June 26, 2020
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By Nicole Tallman, Technical Writer

Operating a business during a global pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges for many, causing shifts in not only the economy and threat landscape, but in how our organizations run on a day-to-day basis.

While some organizations, such as Highmark Health and University of Pittsburg Medical Center (UPMC), were well prepared to weather the storm, even these healthcare titans were amazed at the velocity of transformational change with regards to planning and implementation.

“What we’ve undergone is multiple transformations all within three months,” said Omar Khawaja, Chief Information Security Officer, Highmark Health. “Like most enterprises across the globe, what we’ve been able to do in a manner of weeks is something that we would’ve expected normally to have taken months planning for and years implementing … over the past few months our planning took hours and days and our implementation took weeks and barely months.”

These rapid changes in business continuity have required flexibility and the ability to scale services. Khawaja observed, “We have transformed how we work and transformed how we see patients.” Often, the most effective way to accomplish these goals has been to onboard new third parties—rapidly and safely.

“If we had to [add] another vendor, having a framework like HITRUST’s, where you can—if they are HITRUST Certified—quickly check off that there’s adequate security in place is important. Our security processes typically take weeks to go through for a vendor, and because they have HITRUST Certification, we can do it in a day,” remarked John Houston, Vice President of Information Security and Privacy and Associate Counsel, UPMC. The processes which were already in place with regards to third-party risk management before the pandemic—in particular the utilization of the HITRUST Assessment XChange and participation with the Provider Third-Party Risk Management Council—greatly benefited both of these healthcare industry leaders when it mattered most.

Join Sean Martin from ITSP Magazine for a conversation with Highmark Health’s Omar Khawaja, UPMC’s John Houston, and HITRUST’s Vice President of Assurance Strategy, Michael Parisi, in the new podcast, Your Pre-Crisis Culture Will Determine Your Ability To Adapt To Unpredictability During A Crisis, to hear more about navigating the third-party risk management waters before, during, and after COVID-19.

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