Although HIPAA policies and procedures can be complex, these regulations were originally introduced to protect the privacy of health information. Electronic medical records must be kept completely secure in order to protect patient data and to avoid costly violations.
Moreover, although healthcare industry cyber security tops the list of compliance issues in 2019, there are many things you can do to take charge of your security.
The evolution of HIPAA
Prior to HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, no general standard of security rules existed to protect healthcare information. Technology has evolved ever since, and healthcare has grown to rely mostly on electronic communications and record keeping over the years.
Today, medical professionals are using technology for nearly every aspect of communication. Electronic medical records, computerized physician order entry systems, claims and care management, and many other various data systems are part of the daily healthcare routine. As helpful as these electronic tools are for overall efficiency, they also increase the challenges of keeping all data truly secure and private. HIPAA must continue to evolve to adapt to these modern systems too.
Today, there are four main rules in HIPAA.
Sets standards for privacy and integrity and outlines safeguards to ensure the privacy of protected health information (PHI).
Sets standards for maintaining the security of PHI through many safeguards, including technical, physical, and administrative.
Breach notification rule
Outlines the processes to follow in the event of a data breach.
More recently rolled out, this defines the responsibilities of business associates.
Security rule evolution
According to this HIPAA compliant medical release, the major role of the security rule is to protect health information while allowing covered entities to adopt new technologies to improve patient care. The security rule was designed to protect data being transmitted in electronic form. Specifically, covered entities must adhere to the following rules:
- Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all e-PHI (electronic personal health information) they create, receive, maintain, or transmit.
- Identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information.
- Protect against reasonably anticipated, impermissible uses, or disclosures.
- Ensure compliance by their workforce.
Healthcare compliance issues
Although many compliance concerns continue to arise in the healthcare industry, cyber security paired with leadership engagement to enforce this security are at the top of the list of serious issues.
According to SAI Global, lack of automation and a growing strain on department resources are also working as a detriment in healthcare compliance. The lack of leadership engagement is also a major concern that is putting healthcare compliance in jeopardy. Leadership must step in to ensure that their practices are protected and that all within their workforce are compliant too.
Healthcare industry cyber security
Between data breaches, ransomware, phishing scams, and the numerous sneaky and ever-changing ways that hackers try to steal sensitive data, cyber security significance is at an all-time high. In April 2019, data breaches were reported in 21 states, exposing millions of patient records and resulting in millions of dollars in fines.
The majority of these breaches were caused by hacking incidents. Ransomware is an extreme form of malware in which an entire system is hacked, all the data is encrypted, and held hostage until a sum of money is paid. Healthcare organizations also continue to be vulnerable to phishing scams, which can occur through a simple email that appears to be a link to a credible site. In actuality, a mock login screen was created by hackers to steal personal data.
Take control of your cyber security
The first and most important step is for leadership devise a plan for cyber safety, implement the plan, and properly train all personnel on the plan.
Advanced anti-phishing and anti-spam filters can be implemented to reduce the volume of scams that ever reach employees. However, educating everyone on what to avoid and what the biggest threats are is key. You can also take steps to prevent Wi-Fi hacking in your practice by implementing these safeguards.
Requiring strong, frequently changed passwords is another significant step. Many are turning to two-factor authentication to increase the security of passwords, especially when it comes to accessing areas containing the most at-risk information. Again, training the team on why this is so important is crucial. Know who has access, and keep only as few people as necessary on that list. Finally, in the event of an issue, you can turn to your cloud-based backup as a part of your disaster recovery plan.
For more information
Do not leave your data unprotected. Work with a knowledgeable and professional IT support company that knows the ins and outs of healthcare cybersecurity. For more information, contact Scale Technology today at (501) 213-3814 to speak with an IT professional.