The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and with it, the ways in which patient data is collected, stored, and used. In order to keep up with the latest security threats, independent medical practices need to take steps to protect their patient data.
We do not mean to sound alarmist, but a leak of patient data can be detrimental to the success of your practice. Not only might there be legal and financial ramifications, but you may ultimately lose the trust of your patients.
As a reminder,you must take the steps necessary to ensure your patient’s data is secure.
Let’s look at what those steps might be.
- Perform a Risk Assessment – To better understand where your practice might be vulnerable, conduct a risk assessment. Once you have an idea of where your vulnerabilities lie, you can begin to implement corrective measures.
- Train Your Employees – Create a data security policy and ensure your employees know what it is and what their responsibilities are. Keep up to date with current social engineering attacks and let your employees know what to look out for.
- No PHI on User Devices – There should be no protected health information stored on user devices. This includes cell phones, tablets, laptops, and even desktop computers. You do not want data on a machine that can be stolen from your office, person, or vehicle.
- Assign Role-based Access to Data – Anyone who has access to sensitive information is potential risk. So access should only be accessed by those who need it to conduct their jobs. If your practice is set up in a way that not every employee needs access to PHI, then those employees should not be granted access.
- Encrypt Sensitive Data – Even if someone has access to a mobile device or desktop computer, they should not be able to automatically access sensitive data. Require an additional login to access any information that needs to be protected.
- Build a Security-First Culture – Communicate to your employees the importance of data. And explain the liabilities that a practice faces. Conduct regular checks and updates. Make security the responsibility of all your employees.
Your patients not only trust you with their care, but also with very personal and private information. It is your responsibility, as a practice, to repay that trust by protecting that information. These steps will help your practice better protect sensitive data from falling into unauthorized hands.