A strong and comprehensive healthcare data security program is not limited to compliance. Compliance is certainly important, yet it will not suffice in and of itself. Let’s take a quick look at a few tips that will help your business stay well-protected against ever-evolving digital threats that target healthcare data security.
Safeguarding Healthcare Information
HIPAA mandates cover businesses to ensure patient information is properly secured and only accessible to authorized individuals. Furthermore, this information should only be used for specific purposes. Healthcare organizations must be proactive and incorporate the best digital defense practices for digital security. The proper preparations reduce risk and ensure continued compliance.
Sadly, digital attacks are on the rise, causing that many more healthcare data breaches. Though the majority of breaches are fairly small, impacting 500 or fewer patient records, some have proven quite devastating, leading to millions of dollars in losses. Protecting healthcare data starts with educating the staff members. Healthcare data security requires that employees have digital security awareness, make intelligent decisions and be cautious when managing patient data.
Mobile Device Security
Mobile devices such as smartphones might be used when treating a patient or processing an insurance claim. Mobile device security is necessary to ensure all data is well-protected. There should be an option to remotely wipe devices that are stolen or lost. Strong passwords must be used. Application data should be fully encrypted. It even makes sense to monitor email accounts as well as attachments to prevent malware infections and the unauthorized exfiltration of information.
Keep on reading: The Rise of Wearable Technology in Telehealth
Data and Application Access Restrictions
Access control implementation improves healthcare data protection by restricting applications and patient information access to individuals who need it for work purposes. Restricting access includes user authentication that ensures only those with the proper level of authorization can see specific data. It even makes sense to implement multi-factor authentication, mandating that employees prove they have the authorization necessary by providing a PIN, card/key and/or biometrics.
Data Backup to an Offsite Location
Cyber-attacks have the potential to expose important patient information. These attacks will also compromise the integrity of data. If data is not properly backed up, there will be significant consequences. This is precisely why it makes sense to have off-site data backups along with the proper controls pertaining to data access and encryption. Offsite data backup is also important in the context of disaster recovery.
Perform Risk Assessments
Ongoing risk assessments pinpoint vulnerabilities within security systems including vendor insecurity and oversights in terms of employee cybersecurity education. So, don’t assume an audit trail is all that is necessary. Perform ongoing risk assessments, and your business will be well-prepared in the event that a cyberattack occurs.
Data Usage Controls
Protective information controls set the stage for malicious data activity to be identified and blocked in a moment’s notice. Data controls are necessary to block unauthorized emails, internet uploads and the copying of information to external hard drives.
Read more: Revolutionizing Healthcare with Big Data
Do Your Business Associates Have the Proper Data Security?
If your business partners do not have the proper digital safeguards in place, your highly sensitive information will be put at risk. If you subcontract work out to others or share your patient information with business partners, perform a comprehensive vetting of their systems to ensure they are capable of protecting your sensitive data.
The Moral of the Story is to Take Data Protection Seriously
It is clear private health data will not remain private unless those tasked with guarding it do so in a proactive manner. Carefully select vendors that provide comprehensive measures for protecting healthcare data. Extend your data safeguards beyond HIPAA compliance, and you will rest easy knowing you have done everything in your power to protect your data against ever-evolving healthcare data security threats.