Keeping Healthcare Data Protected and Secure
Keeping personal information secure should be the top priority of all organizations that handle data. This sentiment is just as vital in the healthcare industry. Personal health information must always be secure and handled with the use of proper precautions. Healthcare professionals need to access and use data in order to provide care, which is why it is important that healthcare providers have in place robust and tested systems that not only protect, but also secure healthcare data. In this article, we will outline some of the actions organizations can take to protect and secure data. We encourage you to reach out to us at CDG for more personalized advice.
Nowadays, when you go to a doctor’s clinic you will most likely have to fill out forms or confirm your attendance on a tablet. Furthermore, receptionists and doctors have access to computers that store your health information. All of these entry points must be restricted to the appropriate users. In order to protect the information, providers can take measures including, but not limited to, the following: limiting the number of login attempts, using biometrics, and implementing two- or multi-factor authentication.
However, not everything has been digitized, either. A provider often has a lot of patient healthcare data on paper and organized in storage files. Therefore, just as electronic access is important, so, too, is physical access. Providers should ensure proper protocols are taken, such as locking and securing offices and having security cameras to track activity.
Track Data Usage
You can ensure a person has the correct authorization to enter an application and access data, but you will also want to track what they access. To do so, providers should track each person’s use of data and applications, as well as other helpful information, such as the time, location, and device used to access the data.
Encrypt Data and Devices
It is highly recommended that all providers encrypt their data. When data is encrypted, the ciphertext cannot be read without the decryption key. Both data at rest and in motion should be encrypted. For example, healthcare providers can use application-level encryption to secure the data. Application-level encryption creates a key for each record. Therefore, one key cannot decrypt all patient records. It is important for providers to choose the right kind of encryption for their needs and comply with any applicable regulatory standards. Moreover, providers should encrypt any device that can access healthcare data.
Sometimes, errors occur not because the complex security system failed, but rather due to human error. Providers must provide appropriate training for all employees with access to data (that’s practically everyone). If an attacker wants access to confidential healthcare data, they don’t necessarily have to launch an elaborate attack. Using malware, a simple phishing email to an employee can give them a way in. Therefore, all employees should be trained on issues such as the provider’s security protocols and the legally mandatory HIPAA regulations.