Why is Healthcare Data privacy important?
A breach can expose thousands of patients to potential identity theft and financial loss and can cause reputational harm to your healthcare organization. Rising number of cyber attacks, and enforcement of stricter privacy laws, like HIPAA and PHIPA, has made IT Security critical for healthcare services.
LifeLabs, Canada’s largest medical services company, was hacked in November 2019. The company was forced to pay a hefty ransom to retrieve and secure the personal information of up to 15 million customers. Also, a class-action lawsuit was filed against LifeLabs, accusing the company of negligence, breach of contract, and violation of customer’s confidence, causing further damage.
It’s high time we recognize that an attack is inevitable its just a question of when. According to a recent Ryerson University study, more than half of the Canadians have fallen victim to a cybercrime.
What can you do to prevent violation of your patient’s healthcare data privacy?
Preventing a Healthcare Data Breach is always better than spending a fortune on damage control. Here’s 10 tips when followed will help prevent an IT infrastructure data privacy breach in your healthcare business.
1. Vulnerability & Risk Assessment
Nothing can be better than identifying and fixing the loopholes within your IT infrastructure. A Vulnerability Assessment comprises a step-by-step analysis of your network server, devices, and web applications, highlighting the exposures and gaps. Penetration Testing, which is an authorized, simulated, and controlled breach conducted by an ethical hacker, is also used to identify application flaws and faulty configurations while simulating an attack. A summary of the findings report of these tests will guide you on what needs to be remediated to increase your data protection.
2. Educate Your Employees
Your employees are your first line of defense because more than 80% of the attacks are successful due to the negligence or errors of a staff member. Apart from training your staff on regulations like HIPPA and PHIPA, you should take steps to modify their business awareness so they can identify a potential cyber threat. An easy to understand and interactive Security Awareness E-learning should be compulsory for all your employees.
3. Mind Your Patient’s Records
Never leave your patient’s records unattended, be it on your system or on a multi-function machine. You should choose to digitalize your processes like patient registration, clinical trial management, medical staff management, and insurance claims processing by adopting Healthcare Workflow Automation. Also, desktop fax machines with easy walk-up access to all can violate the confidentiality of PHI. To fix this, you should switch to a cloud-based faxing solution, and would also eliminate the hassle and costs associated with maintaining an on-premise fax server.
4. Protect Your Documents & Files
More than 90% of the attacks that occur in Microsoft 365, the most trusted office online productivity subscription (switch to Microsoft 365 formerly Office 365) are launched via email, and Microsoft’s in-built protection can’t stop them all. You should use Advanced Security for Microsoft 365.
5. Control Document Access
Different departments require access to patient information for different reasons. However, all users should not have access to all information. You should define a ‘least privilege model’, i.e. each user should be granted access to data pertinent to one’s role. Such a security-based access control across devices and services can be maintained with Microsoft 365’s device management system.
6. Subnet Wireless Networks
You should ensure that private patient information is not exposed through the networks made available for the public. Try to have a sub-network for the guests separate from the network connecting your medical devices and applications.
7. Examine and Upgrade Network Security Architecture
Avoid unexpected loopholes, if you are aware of the changes in your organization’s network security caused due to the changes in your processes, resources, and applications. Periodically (annually or semi-annually) conduct Network Security Architecture Review to be in complete control of your security posture.
8. Have a Clear “Bring Your Own Device” policy
Your employees should have clarity if they can use their personal devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops) on the company’s network and if they can take their company-issued devices home. Also, your IT staff should be aware of such devices and should take appropriate measures. Implementing and enforcing such a policy may help avoid a data breach.
9. Allocate a Cyber Security Budget
Develop an incident response plan with your IT department so you’ll know what to do and how to deal with a breach should it occur. The plan should clearly state the procedures to follow and do’s & don’ts to contain or prevent a Healthcare Data Breach.
10. Have an Incident Response Plan
It takes money to protect your data to maintain IT security measures not only helps your staff pro-actively deal with a potential threat and data loss prevention but also builds trust and confidence among your clients and other stakeholders.