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Healthcare Security Best Practices: Five Critical Considerations

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  • Healthcare Security Best Practices: Five Critical Considerations
  • Apr 26, 2021
  • Posted By: MedicoReach
Healthcare Security Best Practices: Five Critical Considerations

‘’One of the biggest challenges to medicine is the incorporation of Information Technology in our practices.’’ – Samuel Wilson

Healthcare Security best practices are crucial for every industry that is growing enormously and uses a host of technological resources.  To stay at par with the growing technology and the ever-growing number of patients, the healthcare industry is following a digital path with loads of data daily finding its way into the already voluminous database. From cloud storage to software applications, the healthcare industry requires the best security measures to follow at the workplace as well as in terms of cybercrimes.

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The healthcare industry is connected with the patients, healthcare centres, insurance companies, and the world at large. 89% of healthcare organizations experienced a data breach in the past two years. However, there is always a risk related to cyber security, data loss, privacy, maintaining confidentiality, etc.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) has set out strict guidelines to the healthcare industry for strict data protection. Because of the sensitivity of the patient’s data that needs to be protected.

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 Here we are listing five critical considerations for the Healthcare Security best practices to reduce the risk of data breaches. 

1. Access Control and Monitoring

By limiting access to the limited number of users, and maintaining access controls.  Restrict access to patient’s information up to certain applications and users only.  User authentication allows authorized users to have access to data that is highly confidential and requires security.  The use of frequently changing passwords, PINs, authentication, and verification codes can help maintain the security of the healthcare data and prevent misuse of information.

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Controlling the data including unauthorized sending of email, copying, restricting the use of external storage devices, printing, etc. can help in a great way to enhance the protection level. At the same time, managing the log-in access and use of systems must be tracked and monitored to identify who was using the data resources. Maintenance of servers in a safe and locked environment, installing cameras, installing firewalls for software and hardware as well as investing in the latest methods of encryption is highly recommended.

2. Encryption of Data 

Encryption of every data is a safe digital practice for hospital security.  Every data of patient should be stored encrypted in every device including hard drives, mobile devices, laptops, desktops, etc. It includes data that is in transit. When the data is encrypted, it becomes impossible for cybercriminals to hack it.  There are various methods of data encryption depending upon the requirements of the organization.   Generally, encryption algorithms are used to protect the data.  Even the old and obsolete data should never be left encrypted. Before retiring or recycling any device, ensure that the data is totally removed.

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3. Risk Assessments

Risk Assessment lets you identify the risky areas and shortcomings of your healthcare organization.  Evaluation of the various risks is relevant that can be done by frequent and periodic assessments. Being proactive is better than being reactive. Therefore, it is better to keep identifying grey areas, before any incident of the data breach.  Risk assessment can save a lot of data as well as the cost involved in maintaining the system.

A specialist can be assigned to handle the difficult task and perform the role of identifying any risk in the systems and the workflows following government rules, organizational policies, industry trends, and cyber security guidelines. Some healthcare organizations hire consultants or agencies for risk assessment.  The risk assessment personnel is responsible for updating the operating system, software, anti-virus software, etc. as well as informing about the potential cyber risks that linger around the hospital IT system.

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4. Everyday Common Practices

Following certain everyday common practices can help organizations overcome any future potential threats. Not every employee is an expert in IT skills and may commit errors at the workplace. Following are the basics that must be adopted at the workplace to enhance security:

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  • Maintaining strong passwords that are easy for the user to remember but difficult for others to break. Also, keep changing the passwords of systems, networks, and software frequently.
  • Delete the old, unused, and obsolete accounts that are not in use anymore, including those of separated employees.
  • Do not install unauthorized software as it may turn out to be malware, Ransomware, etc. that possess security risks.
  • Uninstall unwanted software, browser plug-ins, etc.
  • Restrict or block access to websites, social media, and client’s chat.
  • Blocking access to physical ports, USB flash, CD drive, etc. on systems at the workplace.
  • Always install and use updated and latest software, hardware, Operating System, and Internet Explorer.
  • Education and Training to the employees so that errors and omissions can be prevented.

    5. Backup Data

    Maintain a backup of data at safe and secure locations not only at the premises but also at the offsite location. This can prevent data from future Cyber Attacks. Exposure of sensitive data of patients may lead to huge losses as well as mishandling of credit information of the patients, causing fraudulent transactions.  Backing up data is necessary for the encrypted form along with safety and strict measure.  Not only cyber attacks, but there is also potential danger from natural disasters too. In case of natural calamity or disastrous situations, the offsite backing up of data can make for easy availability of the data resources and recovery.

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    With the above-mentioned healthcare security best practices, proper arrangements and measures should be followed to protect the data from cyber thefts and attacks.  Every hospital IT system be well-equipped with the necessary security guidelines. Educating the employees and making them follow the procedure of workflow with strict hospital security rules can help a long way in reducing the risk of cyber attacks.

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