Steps To Protect Patient Data: We all know the importance of protecting patient information but at the same time we cannot overlook the truth that it is equally difficult as well. In fact, it is even getting harder and harder in today’s digital world.
In the year 2019, 9 out of 10 physicians stated that they have switched to electronic medical records or EHR. It is also estimated that in the coming years more than 3.4 billion smartphone & tablet users will download certain health-related applications, which means more ways for patient data to be at risk.
In the last two years, roughly 90 percent of healthcare organizations witnessed a data breach. Surprisingly, there were 253 breaches cases last year alone that further resulted in the loss of more than 112 million health records.
All of these instances say out loud that there is a major problem that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. But the question here is, how can we stop it? Keep reading to get an answer to this question.
Here are the 5 easy and effective steps to keep your patients’ data secure!
The human element “was” and “still” remains the biggest threat to security all around the industries, but especially in the healthcare area.
A minute human mistake or negligence can lead to disastrous or expensive consequences for the whole healthcare organization. This is when the right education and training come into play.
There are numerous security awareness training today. Such training helps healthcare employees to acquire the necessary knowledge and understanding. This way, they will be able to make smart decisions and avoid errors while handling patient data.
Restrict Data Access
One should consider implementing access controls to strengthen healthcare data protection. How? Just by restricting access to patient data as well as certain applications. Only people who need patient data to carry out their duty should be allowed to access it.
Access restrictions also ask for user authentication, making sure that only authorized users are accessing protected data.
In addition to this, multi-factor authentication is one of the most recommended approaches. This requires users to validate to access any protected patient data. That means authorized users will have to use the following validation methods:
- Information known only to the authorized user, like a password or PIN number
- A thing that is only possessed by the authorized user like a card, key, etc.
- Something unique to an authorized user, such as his or her biometrics including facial recognition or fingerprints.
Use Data Usage Controls
The benefits of protective data controls are beyond one’s imagination. It allows accessing control as well as monitor to make sure that sensitive data activity is flagged and/or blocked easily in real-time.
Healthcare organizations should rely on data controls that efficiently block specific actions involving important data, including unauthorized email sends, web uploads, printing, or copying to external drives.
Data discovery and classification are also two important factors that support the whole process by making sure sensitive data can not just be easily identified but also tagged to acquire full protection.
Log & Monitor Use
Logging all access as well as usage data are also equally important. It allows both providers and business associates to know which user is accessing what data, applications, and other resources, the time, and also from which devices and locations.
These logs help in auditing purposes that help an organization to identify areas of concern as well as improve protective measures when required.
In case any incident happens, an audit trail will not only help an organization to pinpoint precise entry points and know the exact reason but also, evaluate the overall damages.
Carry Out Risk Assessments
While an audit trail helps an organization to identify the reason and various details following an incident, proactive prevention is also a crucial step to be considered.
Carrying out regular risk assessments helps to know every vulnerability or weak point of security in a healthcare organization. One can also easily figure out problems in employee education, the security posture of vendors & business associates, and certain other areas as well.
When risks across healthcare organizations are evaluated periodically, then it will benefit in identifying and mitigating every potential risk at the earliest. This way, every healthcare organization can avoid costly data breaches as well as various other detrimental impacts of a data breach including reputation damage and even hefty penalties.
Now that you know all the steps to protect patient data, it is time to start with the very first step that is educating staff in the healthcare organization. Go for it!!!