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How Healthcare Data Breaches Warrant the Intervention of Billing Specialists

March 04, 2013

Technology has really done wonders to the way doctors or hospitals document and exchange healthcare data across the clinical eco-system – with the digital mode, it is now finitely possible to record unimaginable volumes of data in miniature chips, and share them  instantly for collaborative clinical management, research, medical billing, and macro healthcare policy decisions. The negative side of this technology utility is that there has been alarming increase in healthcare data breaches that have threatened to jeopardize patients’ privacy and security as well as credibility of doctors/hospitals.

While most of the present-day Electronic Health Record Systems (EHRs) are amply protected against security threats, yet they are susceptible to unscrupulous manipulations. More over there are always possibilities like lost or stolen hard drives, laptop, PDA or thumb drive, human error, and network hacking.  With technology becoming more mobile than ever, chances of losing your healthcare data or being stolen while in transit may be too high.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise that 85% of healthcare providers have experienced a data breach of some kind or other in the recent past. While the new electronic medical record legislation seeks to put the onus on manufacturers or vendors, providers too will have significant role in preventing most of the data breaches that emanate on account of operator’s incompetence. In fact, the analysts have it that 86% of data breaches are not IT related and could be prevented through better policies and training.  Thus, may be increasingly necessary to have a multi-pronged strategy to avert data breaches:

  • Prevention through sourcing industry-leading tools to stop identity theft and maintain legal compliance
  • Education that seeks to impart best practices in protecting personal and highly sensitive clinical data
  • Have a measured response to incidence of breaches and conduct scrutiny to seal off loopholes, and have a policy to monitor, avert and improve with evolving data security standards.
  • Employing appropriate security and backup solutions to archive important files, and test frequently
  • Devising two-factor authentication, such as strong user name and password, plus a token or one-time password
  • Integrating information protection practices into businesses processes

In between these strategic measures, providers should necessarily be aware of the significance of full disk encryption (FDE) to nullify negative consequences when the device containing confidential patient information happens to be either stolen or lost. The advantage of full disk encryption (FDE) on devices such as desktops, laptops, data tapes, servers and removable media is that data continues to be safe and undisclosed.

Irrespective of operational sizes, there are enough technology versions to avert data loss or incidence of data breaches. Given the larger implications of healthcare data breaches – hefty penalties from HHS, it may be safer and rather more economical to implement HIPAA compliant EHR systems that are built against threats of data theft, hacking, or operational error.

And, to those practitioners who do not want risk experimenting with too many options, Medicalbillersandcoders.com offers to implement HIPAA compliant and secure healthcare data management platforms (EHRs) as part its comprehensive medical billing solutions. Our affiliation with health care data specialists – who are adept at sourcing, implementing, and conducting healthcare data centers as per your unique clinical and operational demands – should help them remain resolute against healthcare-data-related threats.


Category : ACA / HIPAA / Reforms