The Best Practices For Securing Confidential Patient Data
By Milica Vojnic, business development associate, Wisetek.
Cybercrimes are on the rise across the Internet and the healthcare sector is certainly no different in terms of the risks. This is why storing patient data in a confidential manner is extremely important. Let us take a look at some effective practices as well as what benefits such methods entail.
Make Employees Aware of Potential Threats
In-house training is arguably one of the most important steps. Medical staff should be properly educated in regard to how data should be stored, collated and shared. Even simple mistakes can lead to serious security concerns, so this ground-up strategy will be quite effective.
Implement Access Control Points
Who will be provided with proprietary access to private patient data? Management needs to create layered access control points so that only specific individuals can retrieve sensitive information. While SSL encryption is a powerful tool, other methods such as two-factor authentication are equally valuable to employ.
Regularly Examine Software for Viruses
As this article observes, the majority of healthcare facilities will employ third-party software to store data. The only issue here is that these packages may become corrupted over time. Viruses, phishing programs and malware are three common examples.
This is why installing a reliable anti-software bundle is crucial. Regularly checking for systemic errors can help to identify, quarantine and eliminate any threats that may be present. In the same respect, it is wise to avoid working with lesser-known software providers. These might not possess the most up-to-date security protocols.
Be Prepared to Respond to Potential Security Incidents
Let us imagine for a moment that a security breach has been detected. Who should be notified? What steps should be taken in order to mitigate the damage? Is there a certain individual who oversees such scenarios?
Having a “game plan” in place should an event occur is another way to ensure higher levels of accountability. The severity of the damage will often correlate to how quickly action is taken. When in doubt, it is wise to consult with a reputable cybersecurity firm to learn which strategies are the most relevant for your business model.
Remote Security Concerns
Most experts predict that telemedicine will represent one of the most profound industry trends in the coming year. While this may be extremely convenient for patients, the use of portable devices and the need for remote access can also pose a threat.
Any communications conducted outside of the office must be performed through secure channels (such as avoiding the use of public Internet hotspots). Similarly, those who utilise their own devices should be made aware of the risks to patient data. These methods will help staff members avoid unintentional errors that could otherwise place information in jeopardy.
Internal Audits and Risk Analyses
Recent studies have shown that a staggering 30% of all large data breaches occur within the healthcare sector. This is why remaining vigilant at all times is important. One way to guarantee that patient data remains secure is to conduct internal audits on a regular basis. These will also help to determine whether any compliance issues are present.
Risk analyses should also be carried out from time to time. This is even more relevant in the event that recent business-related changes have taken place. Some examples include:
- The expansion into a new marketplace.
- If software packages have been updated, or replaced.
- In the event that a new cloud storage service is being used.
- Staff changes (such as the onboarding a new team of sales representatives).
On a final note, make it a point to become familiar with all of the regulations stipulated by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). As the threats posed by cybercrimes continue to grow, there has never been a more important time to protect the private data of your patients.