Game Plan for Preventing Health Record Breaches

The healthcare sector was hit hard last year by data breaches according to the ITRC 2017 Data Breach Report. The industry incurred a total of 374 data breach incidents, representing nearly 25% of total breaches throughout the year.

These statistics are unfortunate, but not surprising. Every other week we see another prominent health system falling victim to a security breach, in which patient data is exposed to hackers. Healthcare data breaches have affected millions of people, resulting in fines and legal consequences for the healthcare providers responsible for that data. This trend has proven to be alarming for agencies throughout the healthcare industry.

A lot of issues that lead to health data breaches today, can be identified and addressed beforehand, mitigating the risk of making information vulnerable to hacks. Let’s take a look at a few ways to prevent health record breaches.

The Game Plan:

Encryption is the prescription.

Encryption technology is fundamental in averting data breaches. According to HIPAA standards, loss of encrypted data is not considered a breach – no harm, no foul. Therefore, it’s essential to encrypt patient data not only to keep it protected, but to avoid penalizations.

Additionally, it’s important to protect your hardware assets. Maintaining physical and virtual levels of security for servers, network end points, and even the devices (e.g., digital tablets) used by doctors and nurses in hospitals is crucial.

Store more. Do more.

It’s important to have strong storage capabilities for protected data. Storing information from Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) or Electronic Health Records (EHRs) is one of the main reasons healthcare organizations adopt cloud services. Storing data in the cloud makes it much easier to archive and retrieve patient records and images for use. This means healthcare agencies don’t have to pay costs associated with storing and maintaining the data locally. Such storage capabilities facilitate the access to and sharing of EMRs/EHRs among authorized specialists and hospitals in varying geographic areas; the information accessed is very timely, and therefore potentially life-saving.

Comply with regulations.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) provides and enforces data privacy and security, particularly for medical information. This highly-stringent security standard includes electronic data confirmation, authentication, and encryption. HIPAA also takes into account documentation and risk management in order to prevent health care fraud and abuse. It’s important for healthcare organizations to train their employees on HIPAA compliance and the implications (for them and their company) of data breaches due to negligence. Generally, a healthcare organization will work with a service provider that is fully HIPAA compliant. This means the organization itself will not have to worry about acquiring, maintaining, and managing that industry standard because it has been outsourced to the provider. Keeping with industry standards, no matter what market your agency is in, will greatly reduce the risk of breaches.

When it comes to preventing health record breaches, you’ll want to make sure whatever hosting provider you work with understands the implications of a data breach and institutes good measures for preventing hacks. As far as compliance is concerned, you’ll want a hosting firm that will achieve these standards so you won’t have to.

 Stay ahead of the curve.

Hackers will never stop attempting to garner private information by attacking unprotected healthcare data. Though, as more healthcare organizations understand the implications of such breaches, the more focus is put on mitigating hacks. Through achieving compliance, data storage, and encryption, you are taking matters into your own hands by implementing the first steps to a solid plan for preventing health record breaches.

Whether you are a health services professional or healthcare app developer, contact us to discuss your current systems. We can set up a game plan for preventing health record breaches that will work best for your organization and the organizations you serve.