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Best Practices to Secure Healthcare Data

Driving Healthcare Innovations

By Cloud Solutions International on February 27th, 2020

Data Security in healthcare is a robust process. Healthcare service providers focus on protecting patient privacy and providing high-quality patient care at the same time. They also have to fulfill regulatory systems implemented by relevant authorities. For example, HIPAA, a US law developed to implement privacy standards for shielding patients’ health information and medical records provided by patients to hospitals, doctors and other healthcare providers.

Protecting patients’ confidential data is difficult. Failing to shield patients’ data leads to hefty fines and penalties, and the reputation of the healthcare provider will undoubtedly get affected by it. The requirements to fulfill here include:

  1. Healthcare services should ensure that their patients’ data is secured. 
  2. Only authorized persons can access patients’ data.
  3. Only use data for authorized purposes.
  4. The healthcare provider has to choose the best data security system that saves data. 

Increasing regulatory requirements for healthcare data protection have made healthcare organizations focus on protective approaches and implement advanced systems and use the latest hardware devices. 

Privacy and Security Rules to Minimize Data Misuse

In January 2019, 33 healthcare data breaches and 490,937 records tampering have happened (according to the HIPAA Journal on 25th February 2019). Developed countries like the US also struggle to protect their patients’ data, suggesting the requirements of more robust and advanced data security in healthcare. 

Two types of compliance, “Required” and “Addressable,” come into play here. All healthcare providers have to fulfill the “Required” regulations, which are compulsory regulations and they also have to comply with “Addressable” regulations which are comparatively flexible.

Fulfilling these laws strengthens data security within the healthcare industry. Implementing the following best practices is highly beneficial for every healthcare provider in today’s world:

  1. Risk Assessment.
  2. Assigning a specialist for patient data security.
  3. Enhancing general/everyday common practices.
  4. Ongoing education and training for healthcare staff.
  5. Contingency Planning (disaster planning).
  6. Data Security through the latest systems, including hardware.
  7. Physical Access and Network Design.
  8. Investing money in next-gen data security.
  9. Regular auditing/evaluation.
  10. Documentation. 

The above best practices are difficult to fulfill with the ever-developing data hackers and Internet viruses. Therefore, healthcare data security has to reach the next level to overcome these challenges, and healthcare services should give top priority to strengthening their data security. 

Using Best Practices to Enhanced Patient Data Security

Every healthcare service has to find the balance point between patient data security and deliver high-quality patient care. Failing to fulfill one crucial requirement could even be the end of the healthcare service in terms of reputation damage and law penalties/fines. How to protect healthcare data – check out the following ways,

1. Educate Healthcare Staff

Humans are the weakest link in the data security chain. Avoidable/unavoidable human factors, such as human errors and negligence, can lead to a disaster in healthcare services. The healthcare service also has to train its staff and give them more knowledge for smart decision-making and avoid mistakes/errors, in using advanced data security systems and the latest hardware as well. The technology can’t alone make data security in healthcare secure.

2. Focus On Everyday Common Practices

The human mind prefers shortcuts. Cutting corners can lead to data security system instability and even complete failure. For example, using short passwords for convenience or easy-to-remember, weakens the entire patient data system. The healthcare service can take many steps to prevent these kinds of negligence and shortcuts and secure its patients’ data:

  • Encourage all employees to use strong passwords. Learn how to create strong passwords here (https://www.howtogeek.com/195430/how-to-create-a-strong-password-and-remember-it/).
  • Change passwords regularly.
  • Monitor suspicious login attempts through security logs.
  • Disable unnecessary user accounts.
  • Restrict access to suspicious websites (hackers are everywhere on the Internet).
  • Set strict rules on unnecessary software installations by employees.
  • Update software and never use outdated software (this applies to the OS too). 
  • Don’t assume that a specific Internet Security product is the best. It can come with loopholes.

3. Secure Mobile Devices

Smartphones have become the most-used technological device in many industries. Using smartphones in healthcare is notably on the rise. Doctors can access their patients’ data via smartphones, and patients can connect with their doctors through smartphones. Patients also can use their smartphones to access their medical records. Therefore, guarding mobile device use in healthcare is a prime element of patient data security. The healthcare service can take the following precautionary steps:

  • Manage all devices, configurations and settings.
  • Encrypt application data. 
  • Use virus guards for mobile devices.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Educate employees on safe mobile device use.
  • Restrict employees accessing the main data system through personal accounts.
  • Email virus attacks can happen through mobile devices, too. Mobile security software can protect the device and the entire data system.

Healthcare providers alone can’t fight online hackers and millions of existing viruses on the Internet. Healthcare data security providers is a million-dollar-security investment for all healthcare providers. Make sure the IT security company you have already hired can keep your patients’ data secured. Outsourcing data security to expert data security organizations remains the best option for all healthcare providers now. 

For example, next-gen healthcare solutions by CSI let healthcare providers focus more on their data security by streamlining the entire operation within the hospital or medical center.

Closing Thoughts

Patient data security is a growing concern in the healthcare sector today. Patient data security is complex, with a higher number of healthcare services going digital and using mobile devices for their entire service. All Healthcare IT solution providers have to play a significant role in securing patent data as a whole. 

It will become a big challenge in the future as “Internet Threats” will itself develop to the next level, making things even harder for healthcare providers to protect their patients’ data. However, next-gen healthcare IT solutions can balance it. 

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