From a cybersecurity perspective, the healthcare industry has been one of the most targeted industries. These organizations are lucrative targets because they store a vast amount of data including demographics, financial and other sensitive information about thousands of individuals. There have been many laws and regulations to promote more effective security and privacy practices across all industries, especially in healthcare, with the ultimate goal of protecting patient data.
A recent article by Nathan Bradshaw introduces some tips to prevent breaches and avoid or limit the potential of penalties for failing to comply with regulatory actions.
- Change passwords regularly. The medical practice and its employees should change their passwords frequently. It is also recommended to have different passwords for different applications. It is helpful to subscribe to a secure password manager app that remembers your passwords so you don’t have to. You can take it a step further and set-up multifactor authentication— where you would need to confirm your identity via a code sent to your email or phone.
- Role-based accessibility. It is best practice for physicians and managers to have unique usernames and passwords to access the EHR and other applications— reducing the frequency of sharing passwords. With unique logins, individuals should only see information that is relevant to them, reducing the likelihood of accidental breaches of information. Additional value is created through tracked activity logs which help identify who previously edited or viewed a certain document or account.
- Training and education. One of the most common causes of security breaches is staff negligence. It is imperative that there is continual user training and senior management enforces the importance of security. Check out RCM&D’s blog about training your employees to recognize security threats.
- Regular back-ups. Utilizing cloud technology to back up your practice data and applications regularly will ensure your data is kept safe. Even if there is a security breach, devices are damaged, or you experience a ransomware attack, the data will be stored on the cloud and/or at a separate physical location. When using the cloud, data can be backed-up more regularly and restored more effectively.
- Update and delete. Once data is secure on the cloud, it is fine to delete old data. Keeping all software up-to-date through updates and patching will reduce vulnerabilities in the future and is a crucial step in properly securing your systems.
These tips, along with the others mentioned in the article, will guide healthcare organizations in taking clear action to protect their data. Additionally, regulatory security requirements and hefty fines will help act as a motivator to ensure that healthcare organizations take data protection seriously. Please reach out to a trusted advisor to protect your healthcare organization and to learn about addressing any vulnerabilities in your organization’s cybersecurity routines and procedures.