The U.S. healthcare system has never had a shortage of problems – it has always dealt with several issues simultaneously. The exorbitant prices, the lack of price transparency, medical identity theft cases, lack of patient identification in hospitals, preventable medical errors, and archaic laws are just some issues that plague healthcare. Healthcare data breaches have unfortunately been growing at an exponential rate. With no signs of them stopping anytime soon, it becomes crucial that healthcare providers, professionals, and everyone involved with patient information be vigilant regarding protecting the data. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at how to protect patient data within hospitals and health systems with 5 practices.
Why protecting patient data is becoming so important
Those who are familiar with the U.S. healthcare system know that data breaches are occurring left, right, and center. These data breaches have several grave consequences such as patient information being stolen, being sold in the black market, being used for medical identity theft, patient data integrity failure, litigation costs, loss of goodwill – the list just goes on. And all of this might occur simply because a healthcare staff member opened an external email without being wary of the possible risks.
As a result, healthcare professionals and facilities need to be on guard at all times against such cyberattacks so that they don’t lead to data breaches, disruption of operations, or the most common endgame – medical identity theft.
With the “why” out of the way, let’s dive into the “how”, to be more precise, how to protect patient data.
How to protect patient data with 5 practices
Work on HIPAA compliance
HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, mandates that healthcare providers along with anyone else dealing with patient information protect patient information effectively at all times. It provides many rules and regulations that cover a lot of aspects, and if applicable organizations aren’t ensuring compliance, then they’ll be heavily penalized.
However, working on HIPAA compliance just for the sake of avoiding penalties won’t help. HIPAA provides several guidelines on how to protect patient data at rest and during transmission. If these guidelines are taken as starting points, not only will HIPAA compliance be ensured, but patient data will also be protected – reducing chances of data breaches. There are even solutions such as HIPAA compliance software that can also aid in compliance – helping identify security gaps and reducing the administrative burden in the process.
Improve user authentication practices
Patient data can be breached from anywhere, and with many healthcare staff working remotely, the risks are just increasing. Putting safeguards in place that enforce limited access to everyone that deals with patient information can slow down breaches. This way, even if the hacker has access to the employee’s account, they will only have restricted access to sensitive information.
Always encrypt sensitive information
Encrypting sensitive information makes it useless for hackers – it makes the information unreadable by outsiders or unauthorized users. Enforce employees’ use of encryption whenever transmitting sensitive patient information.
Provide training on patient data security whenever required
Too many training sessions on patient information security can be ineffective and counterproductive, and too few can reduce its importance. Instead, find the sweet spot for your organization to provide training sessions regarding patient information security.
For instance, whenever there’s news about another data breach that can provide meaningful information, conducting a training session and disseminating the information to the employees can help – learning from others’ mistakes might just be the thing that will prevent a data breach. Also, regularly provide updates on how to handle external emails and requests – the safest bet is treating each email as a suspicious one.
Implement solutions that protect patient data
Several constraints prohibit healthcare providers from fully being protected against data breaches – cybersecurity budgets and hackers coming up with innovative ways to attack being the most common ones. However, while data breaches might seem inevitable for many, patient data can be protected, but how?
RightPatient is the answer.
It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that prevents medical identity theft in real-time. By ensuring accurate patient identification, RightPatient successfully red-flags fraudsters during the registration process. This prevents fraudsters from tampering with the EHRs, ensuring patient data integrity, and protecting patient data in the process.
How are you protecting patient data at your healthcare facility?