It has been more than a decade since HIPAA’s security rule was introduced. In the intervening years, the field of healthcare IT security has evolved dramatically. However, not all practices and providers have gone along for the ride.
Are you part of an organization running a Flintstones-era healthcare infosec operation? If so, you may be playing fast and loose not only with patient welfare but also federal regulations. With the impending implementation of IDC-10 and the ongoing shift to fully electronic medical records, chinks in your healthcare IT security armor may leave both your patients and your organization vulnerable to costly and compromising breaches.
Head in the Cloud?
Cloud computing has lifted physicians’ abilities to communicate, collaborate, and compare patient information into the stratosphere. Developments in cloud computing technology put staggering amounts of useful information in the hands of healthcare providers in both megacities and small municipalities.
But for all the benefits that come from this open access platform, there is also great risk involved. Managing data across multiple platforms and great distances exposes sensitive patient information to huge numbers of eyes. If you haven’t made security a priority, you may inadvertently – and unknowingly – be exposing patient reports, EMRs, and images to nefarious individuals or entities. Be sure any outsourced firms with which your organization or practice contracts has a top-of-the-line IT security system and federal approval for capturing and storing confidential patient information.
Security Alphabet Soup
When swimming in a sea of EHR/EMR, HIPAA, HITECH and many other acronyms, it’s easy to let information security fall to the bottom of your list of compliance priorities. However, the federal government is ramping up efforts to monitor and intervene in even the smallest of HIPAA breaches. In a world of rogue “hacktivists” and ever-changing security threats and standards, how can you be sure you’re doing everything possible to keep patient information secure? Here’s a hint: if you don’t know what “hacktivists” are, you may be in the middle of a Stone Age healthcare IT security situation.
In the new cyber economy, even small- to medium-sized businesses and practices face security threats more commonly associated with institutions on an enterprise-level scale. Putting healthcare IT security higher on your list of priorities shouldn’t even be up for debate.
Top Healthcare IT Security Threats
A few of the most vulnerable points for IT security include:
- Providers and contractors with multiple, untraceable, unencrypted mobile devices – Constantly upgraded operating systems make these ubiquitous devices are especially vulnerable to cyber hacking and viruses.
- The shift from desktop systems to cloud-based servers – The ability to use multiple applications from one virtualized “desktop” saves hardware dollars but exposes private health information to a wider array of infosec threats.
- Social media vulnerability – It’s nearly impossible to restrict employee access to social media, but these networks are also rife with quickly-spreading viruses and security bugs.
Healthcare Security for the Modern Age
If you aren’t sure whether your healthcare security processes and procedures are up-to-date, they’re most likely behind the times. Get smart with your healthcare IT security policies in order to ensure both federal compliance and patient privacy. Leaving your practice and patients vulnerable to cyber infection is as great a charge as the cause of improving physical health. To guarantee the security of both patient data and your vital business information, make IT security a top priority. Doing so may require enlisting an outside contractor with the expertise to make your healthcare IT security completely airtight.
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