Ensuring Data Security of Healthcare Information

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Cyber criminals highly target healthcare data because it’s more valuable than credit card data. From ransomware, ever-existing human element to inappropriately secured Internet of Things devices, it’s challenging to combat security risks today.

You must be asking why would cyber criminals target healthcare data, according to studies, healthcare data raised an interest to cyber criminals as it contains highly sensitive data such as Social security numbers, names, and even health insurance information, Medicaid ID numbers and patients’ medical histories. Cyber criminals could use such information in performing fraud, also they could sell patients’ data in an underground market.

Therefore, healthcare organizations should understand HIPAA requirements and other related policies to ensure healthcare information protection. Here are some of the best ways to ensure healthcare data security:

  • Implement strong data security measures to protect healthcare information in all formats. Health records slowly migrate to digital format due to the continuous advancement of technology. Thus, healthcare organizations should implement EHRs (electronic health records) while ensuring cybersecurity measures are in place.
  • Integrate appropriate physical, technical, and administrative safeguards in order to guarantee integrity, security, and confidentiality of healthcare information. In addition, these safeguards will help bridge security gaps which may cause data loss.
  • Keep file cabinets locked and protected. Healthcare organizations that still keep paper records should ensure they are locked in a safe place. For digital records, technical safeguards must be integrated including data encryption, anti-virus software, and firewalls to secure data.
  • Invest in human resources to ensure data security in your healthcare system. You need to strategically continue to invest in the security function of your organization to specifically manage healthcare data protection. Hire a security officer to monitor your database and stop potential problems from destroying your reputation as healthcare provider.
  • Train your employees about the best practices to defend the database from cyber attacks. Do not just hire people and buy tools. Make sure they are completely aware of their roles and how they can keep healthcare records safe from hackers and data breaches.
  • Understanding HIPAA. Employees must have the right knowledge about handling patients’ data. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability of 1996 or widely known as HIPAA is a set of standards that were implemented to ensure patients that their data are well-stored and privately kept. Every health organizations and covered entities, such as healthcare providers, must comply with HIPAA. Learning more about HIPAA and its rules and regulations could be a big weapon in ensuring security of healthcare information.
  • Build a risk-based data security framework to determine cyber risks. With this framework in place, you can also prioritize cyber vulnerabilities for remediation. Ransomware, for instance, can shut down patient healthcare. If you don’t anticipate these risks, you’re putting your business at risk.

Engaging clinical and business leaders in proper data security governance can help prevent data losses and other cybersecurity threats from ruining the healthcare industry. It’s not enough to just work with your IT and security staff if you want to have a robust security program.

Most importantly, healthcare organizations need to take layered approaches to prevent, fight, and recover from cybersecurity attacks. Prioritize having a strong antivirus or anti-malware software on your computers as well as servers. Also, do not forget to have a reliable cloud provider for your online transactions.

Healthcare organizations are well-known in helping patients in saving their lives or in the financial aid aspect, but that doesn’t mean healthcare organizations must be negligent in securing healthcare information. You must always remember that there’s no industry that is safe from cyber attacks, not even healthcare. As long as cyber criminals would benefit, they will always be eager in hacking and stealing data. Always look into your IT resources and always find a room for security improvement. Always be updated with healthcare security trends and make a strategic plan once data breach occurs. Think of protecting healthcare information from cyber criminals is just like protecting your patients from any type of disease.