Technological advances have made a positive mark on a variety of industries over the years. But, healthcare might be the sector that has benefitted the most. Improved tech within the industry has allowed for faster communications, life-saving procedures, and research that couldn’t be done years ago. However, there are some drawbacks in the world of tech.
Healthcare is one of the most targeted industries for cyber attacks. Hackers are constantly working to get patient information, important data, and even financial information they can use to further their personal agendas. That’s why it’s essential for those working in healthcare to protect their patients’ data.
Thankfully, technology comes to the rescue once again, making it easier than ever to keep patient data safe. If your team isn’t up-to-date with the technology being used to protect patients’ data more efficiently, it’s time to dig a little deeper into what will work best for your practice or facility.
Using the Latest Security in Healthcare Information Systems
Nowadays, there are multiple healthcare information systems used by medical staff and patients each day. Some of the most common include:
- Patient portals
- Administrative systems
- Electronic medical records
While these systems are convenient, they all allow patients and professionals alike to enter and share electronic data. Every time that information is put online, it becomes a target for cybercriminals.
So, what can you do to prevent that sensitive data from being hacked across all systems?
Start by using the right administrative safeguards, including choosing the right security system (and working with qualified IT professionals) to prevent data loss. Second, put physical safeguards in place, including tech tools and equipment specifically designed to keep people from accessing important data. Always use HIPAA-compliant software when storing data, and if you’re sending information to other systems or even across a cloud-based service, consider using encryption to protect it while it “travels”.
Storing Documents Securely
As long as patient documents are stored in your systems, it’s your responsibility to take as many measures as possible to protect them. Working with a qualified IT team is a fantastic place to start. However, there are also steps your staff can take with each document to ensure it’s as secure as possible.
Sensitive data should always be password protected. Documents that feature personal information shouldn’t be able to be accessed by everyone — even certain members of your own staff.
Thankfully, technology has made it easy to password-protect most PDFs and other files. That’s important for both storage and sharing. It ensures that even if a certain file gets in the wrong hands, those individuals won’t be able to access the information it contains.
It’s also a good idea to invest in a secure cloud-based service that allows for password protection and allows you to create encrypted “vaults” for your documents, so the information can’t be read by anyone without the right credentials or security clearance. Thankfully, those services are becoming more common and popular within the healthcare industry thanks to the growing need for high-tech security.
If you’re storing your documents on a hard drive or internal system, make sure you’re always backing them up. While it’s essential to protect patient data from cybercriminals, it’s just as important to protect it from potential loss. Technology isn’t perfect, and accidents happen. Data loss can be devastating for any industry, and it can end up creating distrust and hesitancy in your patients when they find out their information has vanished from your system.
Don’t Rely Solely on Technology
Technology can help to streamline many different processes. Things like artificial intelligence and automation have seen huge leaps in popularity and effectiveness over the last few years. However, there’s really nothing that can replace an extra set of eyes.
If you’re transferring patient data or using templates to fill out sensitive information, don’t solely rely on information systems to get the job done. Many of today’s products use proprietary code, making it difficult to accurately transfer information from one program to another. Not only does that compromise the security of your patients’ data, but it could lead to errors in their care if the wrong information is portrayed in their files.
If you truly want to create a cybersecurity strategy that holds up against would-be hackers, it should include a combination of high-tech resources as well as human effort. Work with your facility’s IT team or consider outsourcing an IT professional to ensure your establishment is up-to-date with the latest in cybersecurity technology. Doing so will provide an extra layer of protection that will offer both you and your patients peace of mind.
Remember, patients aren’t just numbers and codes, and their information needs to be treated with respect by programs and people alike. Adopting that mindset will keep members of your team from potentially sharing sensitive data, and will create a stronger foundation against cybercriminals trying to compromise patient information.
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter.
Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.