Data security needs to be a top priority for the Healthcare industry. Meaningful use guidelines dictate that hospitals and other healthcare organizations must adopt electronic health records (EHR) and move patient records to the digital realm. As more healthcare facilities transition to EHR systems, data protection has become an increasing concern for patients worried about their personal information.
Their concern is not unwarranted, patient information is a hot commodity for cyber criminals. A recent Ponemon Institute study found that in the last five years, 91 percent of health care organizations experienced at least one data breach - and the number of incidents is up 125 percent since the study was conducted in 2010. In addition, a new KPMG survey found that only 53 percent of health care providers and 66 percent of payers considered themselves ready to defend against a cyberattack.
These low percentages point to a lack of information security in the health care industry - but what can be done? Let's take a look at three ways health care organizations can strengthen their security against data breaches and cyberattacks.
- Stay informed about cyber threats
Arguably, the most important way to stay protected against cyberattacks is by remaining educated about looming cyber threats. It's important to be aware of new trends in cybersecurity. Healthcare facilities must make a concentrated effort to educate employees on potential threats as well as safe web and email practices. Implementing Cybersecurity policies and providing consistent training to employees can further help to reduce the possibility of accidental exposure. According to the Health Information Trust Alliance, the surplus of sensitive electronic information in the health care industry has dramatically increased the possibility of security threats."New regulations tied to the Affordable Care Act are now in effect regarding protected health information and electronic health records, which only underscores the need for data security to ensure privacy among patients," said Fred Chang, the director of the Darwin Deason Institute for Cybersecurity. "Cyberspace can be a pretty bad neighborhood, with too few barriers standing between hackers and their targets. Health care providers recognize that data security is of vital importance to their business."Keeping well-informed of the changing cybersecurity landscape can help ensure the safety of patient and hospital data.
- Make sure your systems and policies are compliant with regulations
Compliance is of utmost importance to health care providers. According to the KPMG survey, 57 percent of providers agree that HIPAA violations and the compromise of patient privacy is their biggest information security concern. Maintaining cybersecurity policies is critical to remaining compliant and helps reduce potential threats.Policies should include how to report potential threats, what to do in case of a breach, training measures to stay educated, and how to handle patient data. For instance, proper disposal of hardware that contains patient records can help prevent data exploits.
- Conduct annual risk assessments
Healthcare providers can download free tools, such as the Security Risk Assessment Tool, to help stay on top of HIPAA compliance; however, it should not be used to replace a full-scale risk assessment.
Compliance experts should be used to conduct a robust assessment of your systems to pinpoint vulnerabilities and uncover opportunities to safeguard information from risks.
Pinnacle, An Advanced Imaging Solutions Company can help you determine the best course of action when it comes to protecting patient and hospital data. Contact us today to see how we can help.