Protecting and securing patient data at a healthcare facility is easier said than done. Healthcare facilities and their owners must balance protecting patient privacy while giving them the best healthcare they possibly can. Nowadays, hackers are everywhere, and healthcare facilities are a prime target for these cybercriminals. Their patient database contains tons of valuable information, such as their home address, financial details, and social security number.
HIPAA also requires registered healthcare facilities to ensure that patient data remains secure and is only accessible by authorized personnel. Due to such a requirement, healthcare facilities need to enforce the best cybersecurity practices to ensure that patient data is kept private and secure from threats.
If you are a healthcare facility owner and experienced a data breach recently, you have come to the right place. Today, in this article, we will share with you ten preventative measures to prevent data breaches at a healthcare facility. These ten measures are listed as follows:
Restrict Access to Patient Information
The implementation of access control deters any chances of data leakage. You can increase security by restricting access to data and applications and allow it to only those who need such a security clearance to perform their day to day jobs.
Such access restriction requires an individual to enter an encrypted id and password to access patient information. It ensures that individuals who have valid credentials can gain access, removing any chances of data breaches. A perfect idea would be to have a two-factor authentication present as it adds an extra layer of security.
Monitor Records and Devices
You must always remind your employees to watch on their electronic devices and ask them not to leave any confidential papers unattended. Usually, data breaches and theft occur due to employee negligence. You might say that it is the job of the IT department to handle patient information. However, employees need to play a role in keeping patient data secure as well.
Always ask your employees to keep valuable documents in the lockers under lock and key or keep data on their laptops and mobile devices secure by applying passwords to them. After all, healthcare and cybersecurity are two things that go hand in hand, and one cannot survive without the other. So, give both of them a priority.
Encrypt Hardware and Data
Encryption is crucial if you wish to keep patient information secure. When taking down patient information, your healthcare facility’s IT department must encrypt patient data in rest and in motion to avoid damages and penalties from HIPAA.
Furthermore, do not forget to encrypt WIFI passwords, network bridges, laptops, and mobile devices to avoid data breaches.
Subnet Wireless Networks
You must ensure that networks available to the public do not contain any valuable information. To achieve such a thing, create sub-networks for guests and patients, and create standalone protected systems for your employees.
Have a Strict BYOD Policy
Amongst other policies, there should be a strict bring your own devices policy in place at your healthcare facility. If an employee gets in their device at work, ask the IT department to install the latest security patches and enterprise software on it.
Closely Monitor Cloud Data Access
Suppose all the patient data is present on the cloud data service. In that case, you need to take some extra measures to ensure it remains safe from unauthorized access. You must have an understanding of service level agreement(SLA) with your cloud service provider.
Ensure that the cloud service provider does not have access to your data. Only you and other authorized people can gain access to it. Such a measure will ensure that data will remain secure, even when you upload it to the cloud.
Update IT Infrastructure
Your IT department already has a big task of keeping patient data secure. However, you can do them a favor by keeping up with the times and updating your entire IT infrastructure. Replace any outdated equipment with a new one, or install the latest security patches to keep them updated. Throw out or replace any hardware that does not have any recent security patches available.
Hire Good Idea Staff
If you have the latest IT equipment present at your healthcare facility, you need to hire IT staff that knows how to operate it. Do not skimp out on hiring IT staff and pay them more if you wish to keep your data secure from breaches.
Educate your IT Staff
If you cannot find the right IT staff, you should educate your existing one to keep your data secure and avoid any mishandling. Not everyone can keep themselves up to date with tons of the latest software. It is where staff training comes into play. Train your staff well by sending them on seminars or holding in-house training sessions to effectively do their jobs.
Annually Conduct a Security Risk Analysis
Like a wellness exam, healthcare facilities must conduct an annual risk analysis to ensure they follow HIPAA rules and regulations. Conducting an annual security risk analysis will allow you to know whether your security measure is effective or not. If there are any flaws in them, you will be able to adjust and tweak it accordingly.
The Final Words
Whether it be a healthcare facility or a multi-billion dollar business, everyone is prone to a cyber attack. Hackers work day and night to find loopholes and cracks in the security systems. As a healthcare facility owner, your job is to keep your IT infrastructure up to date and avoid any data from ending in the wrong hands.