Through time we have experienced technological advancement in healthcare all of which have worked in transforming general healthcare processes. More healthcare providers are adopting all kinds of new technology and that includes data storage and management. We, however, note that with every technological growth there is something to be concerned about and in this case data security. You realize that there is so much digital improvement and that almost all data in the healthcare field are computerized. Any patient’s health information is meant to be secured and thus the need for proper data security measures. All healthcare providers should make an effort to make sure that all confidential information or records are easy and efficient to achieve but very secure from unauthorized access.
According to statistics, healthcare data breaches have been on the increase since 2010 and thus the need to control access to sensitive data. According to authorities, it is the lack of proper access controls that has actually allowed hackers with authorized credentials to breach patient information. For cyber criminals to stop viewing healthcare data as a vulnerable target, the healthcare industry needs to adopt security practices. These should be solutions that protect patient data and also allows the industry to improve patient care. Every patient’s information has value and the healthcare industry needs to stretch its means and find ways to protect the confidentiality and integrity of that. Below are some facts regarding data security in the healthcare industry.
A big percentage of healthcare organizations are sure that this sector is actually more vulnerable to data breach and insecurity as compared to other industries. According to them, the main reason for the insecurity is the inadequate observation in making sure that the third party providers are managing sensitive data securely.
In the healthcare industry specifically, data breaches have proved to be very expensive as this is estimated to be $2.2 million.
Statistics confirm that in the last two years 89% of healthcare organizations have at least experienced one data breach that either involved patient data loss or theft.
There is also the fact that data insecurity is linked to both internal and external forces but the external cyber criminal is the leading factor as it accounts for 50% of all breaches.
The Main Threats to Data Security in Healthcare Industry
A big challenge that comes with data insecurity in relation to the cyber crime is that when a patient’s information is tampered with then the stranger’s treatment history can be mixed with the patient’s original EHR and this increases chances for misdiagnosis and treatment errors. Some of the other patient’s information that is at risk or is targeted by cyber criminals include insurance ID number, social security number, medical history, credit card number and address. Generally, any healthcare organization that collects, stores and transmits patient data is vulnerable to cybercrime and that ranges from the smallest physician practices, labs and clinics to the largest hospitals, HMOs, insurers and PPOs.
A recent study on privacy and security of healthcare data has confirmed that the leading cause of data breaches for medical providers and hospitals is the cyber crime. Cyber criminals find healthcare organizations an easy target because historically, they have invested less in IT and that includes security technologies. This is a matter of concern because the top cyber-attacks have exposed more than 193 million personal records to fraud and identity theft. You may not know it but medical information
A big part of data breaches or insecurity is also seen to be the responsibility of negligent employees. A number of companies have reported that they experienced insecurity as a result of employee error. Malicious or negligent employees could disclose sensitive information, download malware from insecure websites or devices, fall victim to phishing scams etc. it is, therefore, necessary for the healthcare organization to increase employee knowledge ability about data security.
Solutions to data insecurity in healthcare
Controlling the Flow of Information
Much focus should not be on securing personal tablets and smartphones but rather securing the actual data. It is possible nowadays to block sensitive information from being downloaded by following a set of rules that contextually and syntactically recognize PHI. The majority of health organizations rely on Digital Guardian to help secure PHI while it also allows for authorized data sharing among healthcare administrators and their patients.
Have a Single Sign-On (SSO)
This works by deterring hackers who normally take advantage of common password habits. What they do is redirect staff to the company’s login page as they access any of the company’s application. The employees will, therefore, be more focused on saving lives and not logging into the system.
Track and Protect Sensitive Data
There is also a way of tracking and protecting all sensitive information anywhere it goes using today’s technology. This makes it possible for the organization to see who downloaded the information and know what they did with the information. Once the employees leave the organization, one can selectively wipe corporate data from their devices without invading their privacy or be tampering with personal data.
The healthcare organization also needs to invest in security awareness as lack of awareness among employees could be your biggest risk. Effort should be put in educating employees on IT security and other aspects of data security.