Best Practices to Ensure Healthcare Data Security

Jan 3, 2018

Big Data in Healthcare

Data breaches are increasingly becoming a matter of concern for the players in the healthcare industry. Many cases of criminal hackers stealing protected healthcare data to commit medical identity theft have been reported in the recent past. These data security breaches can prove to be very costly for healthcare providers and moreover can lead to loss of patient trust and goodwill.

It is crucial for all healthcare organizations to implement advanced data security systems to protect valuable patient information in their database. With a significant amount of data at their disposal, the need of the hour for healthcare companies is to be alert of hackers formulating loopholes to gain illegal access to this data. We have curated a few best practices that can be incorporated by providers for protecting themselves from breach of the critical healthcare data.

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Educate the Staff

In several reported cases of healthcare data breaches, employees of the organization were found to be the culprits. Sometimes, this could happen due to negligence on the part of employees as well. Therefore, it is essential for healthcare organizations to train their employees on their actions that lead to a violation, impart lessons on avoiding phishing, advice on choosing a secure password and not disclosing credentials to third parties, etc.

Ensure Network Protection

Hackers use multiple methods to gain entry into healthcare data systems. So, healthcare providers must ensure that they are prepared to combat them with advanced tools and technology. Providers must understand that it is not only essential to have firewall and anti-virus systems, but they should also invest in technology that limits the damage when attacks occur.

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Encrypt Portable Devices            

Healthcare data breaches can occur if the portable devices in which vital information are stored gets stolen or lost. Healthcare companies must encrypt all their portable devices such as laptops, USB, smartphones, etc. that hold crucial patient information to avoid any loss of data. In addition to providing encrypted devices to employees, companies must also lay down strict policies against carrying data on unencrypted personal devices.

Delete Unnecessary Data

An important fact that medical companies need to keep in mind is that the more the data that they hold with them, the more is data that is available for data criminals to steal. So, they must formulate policies that mandate the deletion of unwanted patient information that is no longer required, from their directory. Also, they must also undertake measures to audit the data being stored on a regular basis.

Implement Physical Security Controls

Though medical companies are widely adopting electronic health records, several organizations keep some of the vital information on paper. Companies must ensure that access to these records and file cabinets are locked or restricted to authorized personnel only. Also, there should be adequate security cameras installed around these facilities to monitor the employees accessing these records.

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Secure Wireless Networks

The advent of technology has forced most of the organization to rely on advanced wireless technology. But these technologies make companies more vulnerable to data security breaches. Such advanced technology has several loopholes that hackers can use to gain access to the company’s records and databases. Therefore, healthcare organizations must ensure that their routers and other components are up-to-date, network passwords are secure and changed frequently, and there are adequate measures to block unauthorized devices from accessing the network.

Keep Tabs on Third-Party Data Storage

Cloud computing has been on the rise in the recent past. Though it is an easier and much more cost-effective method for companies to store data, they have several associated risks of data loss. Sometimes the cloud storage providers may not be equipped with adequate security measures. In such cases, the chances of loss of vital patient information to hackers are very high. So, it is important for healthcare companies to keep a close watch on their cloud storage data and also evaluate if they have adequate security measures to protect their data.

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