Healthcare CEOs concerned about cyber threats but few are taking action

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06 March, 2017

Most healthcare CEOs believe it’s harder for businesses to gain and keep trust in the digital world, citing cyber threats as a growing concern and breaches in data security and ethics as the number one risk to stakeholders’ trust. While most healthcare CEOs are taking action now on data security and ethics, few are taking action on cyber security activity.

Healthcare CEO Survey

PwC’s 20th Annual Global CEO Survey looked at the perspectives of 1,379 CEOs, which included responses from 56 healthcare leaders in 27 countries. The sector summary, ‘A new treatment?: Healthcare findings from the 20th Annual Global CEO Survey’ canvassed views from industry respondents about where we are now, what the future may hold and what business can do to make a positive difference.

The summary revealed that technology’s impact on the industry is top of mind for healthcare CEOs: 86% say technology will reshape competition in the next five years and 71% of respondents are concerned about technological change. In addition, 75% of healthcare CEOs believe trust is becoming a more difficult commodity to gain and keep with stakeholders in today’s digital world – higher than the global average at 69%.

Yet while some healthcare CEOs are taking action – 63% of healthcare CEOs are addressing breaches in data security and ethics, higher than the global average of 53% – most aren’t taking the same proactive effort with cyber security issues. Only 48% of healthcare CEOs are acting on cyber security activity, despite 61% ranking cyber security as the number two risk to stakeholder trust and 75% saying they’re concerned about cyber threats.

Patrick Figgis, PwC's Global Health Services Leader, says:

“Taking into consideration the sensitivity of healthcare data, it’s no surprise that industry CEOs are worried how technology could influence consumer trust and privacy. Yet as the survey results show, the healthcare industry is still at odds on how to harness its capabilities and mitigate the issues that could arise.

Over the last 20 years, technology has changed the way the industry operates. It offers the prospect of better, faster and more personalised care – but only as long as the industry takes up the challenge of addressing the risks that come with those rewards. The real winners will be those that manage to integrate innovations with measures that protect stakeholders’ interests and needs.”   

More so than their global peers, healthcare CEOs recognise that technology has the potential to shape and create opportunities, specifically with their talent agendas. The findings show that 59% are exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together (compared to the global average of 52%) and 82% are planning to use digital technology in training (versus 65% of global respondents).

Among the other findings in the survey:

  • 64% of healthcare CEOs think globalisation has facilitated greater connectivity, and 59% see a greater flow of goods and trade as a result. However, only 14% of healthcare respondents believe globalisation is closing the gap between the rich and poor, and 32% believe it’s creating a more skilled and educated workforce.
  • The top three concerns for healthcare CEOs are over-regulation (84%), uncertain economic growth (82%) and geopolitical uncertainty (80%).
  • Healthcare CEOs, like other CEOs, are feeling very confident about revenue growth over the next three years (52%, up from 37% last year), and 46% are equally positive about the next 12 months. They agree with their global peers in seeing more closed national policies as detrimental to growth (57%).
  • In terms of internal priorities, healthcare CEOs’ top three priorities are organic growth (77%), cost reductions (68%) and new strategic alliances (59%). They are focused on the United States (43%), China (23%) and the United Kingdom (20%) as key markets for the future.

Notes to editor:

PwC’s report ‘A new treatment?: Healthcare findings from the 20th Annual Global CEO Survey’ is based on a summary of findings in the insurance sector, based on the response from 56 CEOs in 27 countries. To see the full results of PwC’s 20th Global CEO Survey, please visit

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Healthcare CEO Survey


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