Tips for Ultimate Security & Compliance in Healthcare

To protect data in the healthcare sector is no simple task. Healthcare providers need to maintain a balance when they deliver quality patient care, meet strict regulatory requirements and protect patient privacy according to the rules put forward by the HIPPA and other similar regulations, like the GDPR for instance.

Due to an increase in regulatory requirements, healthcare organizations need to implement effective practices for healthcare security and equip themselves for compliance to reduce the risk of data breaches. This blog focuses on some of the best tips for ultimate security and compliance in healthcare:

Educate Staff

One of the biggest threats to security across industries is untrained staff, which is a concern in the healthcare industry. Mistakes happen but they result in expensive and disastrous consequences, especially for healthcare organizations, no matter how great they may be.

To prevent this, the healthcare staff needs to be trained about security breaches and how to avoid them, so that they are able to make smart decisions when it comes to confidential and sensitive information.

The more the healthcare industries train and aware their staff, the safer their systems turn out to be.

Restrict Access to Applications and Data

To strengthen healthcare data, access control on applications and data should be implemented. This way, patient information cannot be accessed by everyone — only to those authorized to access such information. Users should be encouraged to use multi-factor authentication, which involves the usage of at least two or more validation methods to gain access. This includes validation methods like:

  • Information only known to the authorized user, like a PIN number or password
  • Something an authorized user would possess, like a key or card
  • Something unique to the authorized user alone, like eye scanning, fingerprints and facial recognition

Implement Data Usage Controls

Data usage controls offer great benefits than monitoring and access control, which ensures malicious and risky data activity is blocked and/or flagged in real time.

Healthcare organizations implement data usage controls to block certain actions which may affect sensitive data, like unauthorized emails, data transfers to external drives, printing and web uploads. To support this process, data classification and discovery plays a vital role to ensure that sensitive data is identifiable to get tagged to receive the appropriate level of protection.

Log and Monitor Usage

Logging all usage and access is just as important, enabling business associates and healthcare providers to monitor which users access certain applications, information and other resources. They may receive additional information for data usage regarding time, devices used and locations.

These logs are necessary for auditing, allowing healthcare organizations to identify those areas that need improvement. If and when an incident does occur, with the help of an audit trail, healthcare organizations may be able to pinpoint the cause, entry points and damage caused by the breach.

Encrypt Data

Encryption is by far the best and most effective protection method for healthcare providers. But this only works if data is encrypted while it is at rest or in transit.

With the help of encryption, business associates and healthcare providers can make it impossible for hackers and cybercriminals to decrypt patient information. Even if hackers and cybercriminals were to gain access to said information, it would be of no use to them.

HIPAA offers recommendations, but it does not specify what kind of data encryption measures should be implemented. Instead, they leave it to healthcare providers to determine the appropriate measures and encryption methods, keeping their organization’s workflow in mind.

Secure Mobile Devices

Usage of mobile devices increased drastically, because they have made it easier for healthcare organizations to treat patients effectively, but there is still a risk of data breaches. This means, mobile device security needs just as much importance. Security measures for mobile device security include:

  • Usage of strong passwords
  • Manage devices, configurations and settings
  • Educate users about the best practices for mobile device security
  • Users should be encouraged to update their device’s applications and operating system
  • All application data should be encrypted
  • Enable usage to lock and wipe stolen or lost devices

Of course, there are countless other tips that can be adopted, but that entirely depends on the healthcare organization and its workflow. Healthcare organizations that take data protection seriously need to understand that HIPPA and other compliance regulations are a good start, but they are not enough to avoid costly penalties due to data breaches and compliance mistakes.

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