There have been rapid strides in the development of technology and we use it in most spheres today. Medical practice has benefitted immensely through technology, enabling patients to gain access to quality healthcare. However, Cybercrime too has become highly sophisticated and combating phishing, hacking and other such activities is indeed a challenge. How secure is your practice today? What are the precautions you need to take in order to be safe and secure? Here are a few valuable tips that will help keep cyber criminals at bay.
It is only of late that the healthcare industry has started taking steps in implementing proper systems for effective document management and online activities where a huge quantity of patients’ data is stored. Of course, cybercrime and security experts still believe that the medical industry sector is quite unprepared to counter attacks by cyber criminals. Although electronic health records and the various healthcare portals are a boon for providers and patients alike, they also offer an open invitation to prowling cyber criminals.
Ensuring that you only use a system that does not store any of the protected health information is a smart way to keep cyber criminals at bay. Once you have uploaded patient health information (PHI) to the EHR (Electronic Health Record) it is safer to ensure that no data is stored in the computer as there is absolutely no need to maintain such records. Also, when you are using an ERP system with the information stored in a local PC, it is better to encrypt all files and have them protected by strong passwords.
Most hackers have perfected their methods and can easily break into the networks of healthcare organizations. And it is up to the concerned IT departments to prevent such breaches by using the latest tools that are available. It may not be enough to spend huge sums on securing the perimeter by installing sophisticated firewalls and other antivirus software, all of which can be hacked easily by a determined hacker. The trick lies in adopting sophisticated technologies to counter and limit damages that can be caused by such attacks.
Keeping all the staff members well educated about the perils of cybercrimes is also very important. They need to be made aware about what constitutes HIPAA violation and what does not. Staff members also need to be wary about phishing activities that are targeted at hapless employees who often believe them to be harmless. Ensure all devices used by employees, including hand held devices like Smartphones, laptops, tablets etc carrying sensitive information are encrypted. Prevail upon the employees on the importance of carrying personal devices that are suitably encrypted, discourage usage of any unencrypted devices.
While ensuring all electronic health records are well secured, it is also important to ensure that any sensitive information that is stored on paper is also safe and secure. Most employees use their own personal devices like Smartphones while at work, hence a strict mobile device policy should be in force, allowing only certain type of data to be stored in such devices. There should also be a check clearance on the types of apps that may be installed in such personal mobile devices. Using software specially meant for mobile device management makes good sense.
While using cloud based services has come as a great boon for most organizations, it is the smaller companies that benefit the most from such services. However, entrusting sensitive data to third parties has its own risks and perils, notwithstanding the benefits accrued from the savings in costs. It pays to vet such third party service providers diligently in order to establish their bona fides.
In conclusion, it is safe to assume that any organization, including healthcare companies need to keep up with technology. Hence using electronic health records is the way to go, though not at the cost of security. After all, the healthcare companies are running the same risks that credit card companies and banks (especially net banking) are undergoing.