While technology is the strongest tool of the healthcare department these days, it is also its weakest link. Sure, the advanced medical equipment, coupled with complex and sophisticated software, improved the efficiency of operations and enhanced accuracy. But it also increased our dependency on technology.
With increased dependency comes an increased need to entrust the machines with confidential medical data inclusive of patient’s medical records. Although the prime purpose of all these machines and technology is to level up the safety offered, to some extent, it also levels up the security risks. And well, that’s probably because, like every other thing in the universe, they have their flaws. Surely, it doesn’t render them useless either.
All we have to do to tackle the flaws is to level up our measures against the potential risks. And if you seek solutions for the same, then you might as well find these five effective tips for improving patient data security.
Regular Software Maintenance
Rule number one for upgrading your current security system is to keep yourself in line with the advancements. Certainly, you do not want hackers to have the advantage of being one step ahead of you.
To prevent that, you ought to regularly maintain your data-keeping software. You can do so perhaps by accepting the occasional updates. Or perhaps, by tallying the status of tech in your system with the rest of the market. You can even have cybersecurity professionals to help you deal with these updates.
In case you choose not to do that, you ought to know that it makes your system vulnerable. It leaves out spaces and holes that advanced tech can easily overcome. Note that those with ill-intentions would most likely have all the access to the latest tech. So, you ought to make a wiser move!
Educate the Staff
Perhaps, the most important tip for improving patient data security is to educate and train your staff. Why? Well, there aren’t many reasons.
However, the one and the only reason behind this can cause havoc on the patient data handling department if not dealt with on time. As humans, we make a lot of errors and mistakes.
Often, we overlook minute details and matters that can be alarming symbols of security breaches. The staff can even introduce malware into the data system by responding to phishing email attacks.
Unfortunately, no matter how much we are vigilant, the susceptibility to a human error makes us unreliable when it comes to security. But, an organization can make this situation better to an extent by educating their staff about data security.
Entities should train employees and spread security awareness. So, they can identify and track down data break-ins or problematic emails.
Setup a Specific Access System
Another effective method to approach the data protection issue is to narrow and specify the access system. The direct way to do so is to limit the number of people who can gain access to the patient’s sensitive information.
You can select a few trustable staff members, train them, and grant them access to the patient data system too. Also, you can limit the applications or databases so that checking for breaches is easier.
Moreover, reinforce the patient data system by implementing user authentication. You can even add multi-factor authentication so that anyone accessing the database has to verify identity through more than two ways.
Some other high-end authentication methods include thumb-scanning, retina-scanning technology, and mobile authentication system. For more strict security, you can establish different passwords for all members with access to the patient sensitive data. These protective layers make it difficult for hackers to access your system.
Encrypt the Data
Data encryption fundamentally refers to coding the data such that only certain authorized individuals can access it. As of yet, there exist two types of encryption methods that you may use to secure patient data. These include:
- Software-based Encryption
- Hardware-based Encryption
Software-based encryption involves one-word passwords, while hardware-based encryption involves keypad PINs or biometric authentication. For that very reason, hardware-based encryption is highly recommendable because, with a separate processor, it is much more effective. Overall, both of these keep sensitive information, such as patient’s insurance information, medicinal records, etc.
Cross-check & Comply with HIPAA regulations
HIPAA is the short-form for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, also called as Kennedy-Kassebaum Act. President Bill Clinton made it law on August 21, 1996.
The act emphasizes improving the flow of healthcare data and management of patient safety data. It addressed the restrictions and limitations of patient data safety.
So, complying with HIPAA rules and policies can help strengthen an organization’s database. It is especially helpful for health startups and departments with no data security strategy ready.
However, the HIPAA policies are quite strict and create an impression of over-protectiveness to the patients. As a responsible entity, the staff must educate the patients about their data access legal rights for better understandings.
In a nutshell, a hospital and healthcare department should always emphasize the protection of their patient sensitive data. Hackers and evil-minded people can cause great damage if they access all the identity-relevant information. Imagine money theft or even worse, and the destruction of your organization’s reputation.
The 5-effective methods stated above for patient data security will certainly help you strengthen it. Implement these today to protect your patient’s information from criminal activities!