Today’s connected world has transformed the healthcare industry. Adoption of digital technology is on the rise in Healthcare industry, and this has led to increasing concerns regarding patient data security. However, as the benefits of EHR to a patient care coordination are immense, with careful planning and training, healthcare organizations can protect the patient data.
Before we discuss how to protect the patient data, lets first look at the ways and forms these data breaches happen in healthcare.
The first case if when criminal hackers steal the protected patient information to commit medical identity theft and the second is when the health organization employees view and use the patient records without prior patient authorization. Not only data breaches are expensive for providers in terms of potential HIPAA fine and compliance costs, but it also results in negative publicity, loss of patient trust for the healthcare organization.
Another reason healthcare organization fail to protect sensitive patient information is because most of the IT investment is going towards patient care tools and systems, and not enough towards patient data security. According to www.healthitsecurity.com, 2,682,462 patients were affected by data security breaches in the second half of 2017. And this number isn’t going to slow down because healthcare organizations are expected to provide quality patient care. Use of digital technology, and continuously adding of new technologies increase the possibilities of data breaches.
One thing is for sure that healthcare digital transformation is here and EHR, Telemedicine and wearable medical devices are a reality now. This new healthcare trend demands hospitals and private healthcare organizations to not only be careful and also adopt necessary IT systems, best practices for security and staff training to protect the sensitive patient health and financial information.
Here’s a checklist of five important best practices for healthcare data security that your organization can adopt in 2018 if you provide high-tech patient care:
Ensuring Vendor and Partner Security
It’s not only important to maintain security measures at your organization, but you also need to ensure that the organizations you work with have proper IT security programs in place. Working with companies that are aligned with ISO/ISE 27001:2013 standard is a good start.
Implement proper tools and measure to make sure that the network is safe from hackers. This includes both perimeter security such as firewalls and antivirus and also segregating network to ensure that an intruder into one area does not get access to all the stored data of the organization.
HIPPA compliance training should be a must for all the employees of a healthcare organization. Most times it is negligence that leads to data breaches than malicious acts.
Device Security Policy
Believe it or not, a lot of data breaches still happen because employees fail to follow security guidelines for the devices that store patient data. Desktop, tablets and even mobile phone should be password protected and the organization should mandate all the employees to follow device security policy.
Destroy Unnecessary Data
Delete unnecessary data, be it digital or physical. All healthcare organizations should have a policy in place to destroy old patient data. Regular audits should be conducted to identify data that’s not needed.
Technology today has immensely powered and enhanced the capabilities of physicians. The power to connect, treat, educate and track has taken healthcare technology to greater levels. At the same time, it has also raised the bars of responsibility for individuals and organizations in this sector. Since this responsibility can get overwhelming, there are companies like Hipaa Secure Now who provide affordable, easy to use services to help healthcare providers and their business associates to comply with HIPAA and protect sensitive patient data. Their services and contact information can be found on their official website www.hipaasecurenow.com