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How To Improve Healthcare Data Security

How to Improve Healthcare Data Security

Hospitals and healthcare organizations like yours need to take steps to improve healthcare data security. The cost of data breaches has reached almost $4 million, and healthcare incidents are proven to be the most intensive of all.

In 2018, the healthcare sector saw 15 million patient records compromised in 503 breaches, three times the amount seen in 2017, according to the Protenus Breach Barometer. The average cost to healthcare organizations per record breach is $408, which is double that of other industries.

As you can see, cyber-attack security is something that should be a major concern to healthcare professionals.

Stolen patient data isn’t as valuable as stolen financial records, so the motivations behind stealing and selling bulk medical data can be foggy. However, one thing is clear: cybercriminals are putting more time and resources into exploiting and monetizing health care data.

This means that if you’re going to avoid putting patient information and your revenue at risk, you’re going to need to focus on your healthcare data security

1. Educate Staff to Improve Healthcare Data Security

healthcare-staff-tabletHuman error is one of the biggest causes of dangerous security breaches. It’s worth noting that 91% of cyber attacks actually come from phishing emails, according to the HIPAA journal.

Phishing emails tend to be personalized and can look fairly realistic. It might even look as if it came from a business associate. This is why proper computer literacy training is a must.  Raising security awareness and providing training to your staff so everybody is on the same page is essential.

You should also educate your staff on how to create strong, hard to guess passwords for all applications used at work and make this part of your data security policy.

(Read More: Why Your Business Needs a Data Security Policy)

2. Restricting Access to Data and Applications

Make sure members of your staff only have access to the information they need by implementing access controls. There’s no need for every member of staff to be able to access everything.

You need to make sure your access control management is completely comprehensive. This means that you not only need to give digital permissions to the right people while they use software but that the wrong people cannot get into certain areas of the building that would give them access to sensitive documents and data.

(Read More: Audit Access Control Systems to Ensure Hospital Security)

3. Logging and Monitoring Use


Logging all access and usage data is also crucial in protecting patient info, enabling providers and business associates to monitor which users are accessing what information, applications, and other resources, when, and from what devices and locations.

This can give you an insight into who might be behind a data breach and what exactly caused the problem. You can then take the steps to improve those weak areas and make them more secure in the future.

4. Encrypting Data

This is a powerful protection method and should be utilized whenever possible. Data that has been properly and carefully encrypted will be unreadable by any hacker because it has been translated into another form or code.

People who have access to the decryption key or secret key are the only ones who will be able to see the information that has been encrypted.

5. Securing Mobile Devices and Tablets

It’s easy and not uncommon to access data on mobile devices and tablets these days, so they need to be secured. A strong password, encrypting application data, and taking other precautions is key.

You may even want to consider giving those who need to regularly access sensitive information devices that they should only use for work purposes.

6. Mitigating Connected Device Risks

Connected devices are taking all kinds of forms. In the healthcare industry, everything from medical devices like blood pressure monitors to the cameras used to monitor physical security on the premises may be connected to one main network.

Make sure this is taken into account and that device risks are carefully mitigated. You will likely want to speak to an expert in integrated security about ensuring that these devices are not leaving you vulnerable.

7. Conduct Regular Risk Assessments

Conducting regular risk assessments can identify vulnerabilities or weak points in a healthcare organization’s security. It can also give you a clue to any shortcomings in employee education, and other areas of potential concern.

8. Utilizing Off-Site Data Backup

Offsite data backup is an essential component of disaster recovery. If a data breach does occur or you lose important records and sensitive information for another reason, you will be able to still locate the information you need in another location.

9. Evaluating the Compliance of Business Associates


Careful evaluation of all potential business associates is one of the most crucial security measures healthcare organizations can take. You need to make sure any business associates are taking the same or similar measures to you in order to keep data safe.

If you see any red flags such as password sharing, people giving access to information to their coworkers who are not approved to view the information, irregular login activity, etc., it is probably time to speak with your employees about your security policies.

The good news is that experts are currently working on other ways to stop these breaches, but unfortunately, the healthcare industry has been quite unprepared in comparison to other industries when it comes to data security. That aside, there could be a change on the horizon sooner than we think.

Security and Medical Devices

It’s also worth noting that the FDA issued guidelines for data security in medical devices. This is because security in medical devices could pose a unique threat because of their technological diversity.

The term medical device is quite broad – it could mean anything from a smartphone app to an insulin pump. However, these items are increasingly connected to a network which leaves a unique opportunity for hackers.

When exploited, data breaches occur and can negatively affect people relying on those devices. The new guidelines focus on security vulnerabilities after devices are available to consumers.connected-medical-device

The guidelines recommend that device manufacturers should develop better channels of communication to ensure that vulnerabilities can be identified and fixed once the device is already on the market.

The most effective way of reducing security breaches could be a case of designing and implementing proper data security training and standards, however, this will vary from business to business.

For the more sophisticated attacks, new forward-thinking techniques for protecting medical data are necessary. Healthcare institutions, business associates, and healthcare technology providers all need to ensure that communication is made a priority to avoid the ever-evolving security risks and come up with solutions that work.

The risks and costs you face with a health care security data breach are too great. Millions of people and their personal data are at risk. Innovation and communication are two things of the utmost importance when it comes to keeping those people and their data safe.

You will need to ensure that your systems are both streamlined and integrated properly to ensure maximum security and avoid damaging data breaches and physical threats. What does this mean exactly? Click below to find out.





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