6 powerful ways to improve patient data security

Time and again, the US healthcare industry is struggling to protect healthcare data against threats, while delivering quality care and complying with regulatory requirements. But, despite all data protection measures being taken, data security breach incidents happen and the breach list is increasing day by day. These data breaches not only jeopardize patients’ trust in their healthcare providers but also have costly consequences.

The following are some of the tips to better enhance patient data security and keep your practice safe from hackers.

  1. Train staff on effective security measures: The human factor continues to be one of the biggest security threats. HIPAA Journal reported that more than 53% of data breaches are due to human negligence or errors. Ensuring that all staff is duly trained on data security protocols helps prevent such types of data breaches. Training provides them with the knowledge to identify potential security threats and make smarter, faster decisions. It also educates them to exercise due caution while handling patient data.
  2. Update software whenever needed: Even though software updates can be time-consuming and annoying they are absolutely essential. Never ignore basic software updates just because you are busy. Outdated software is most vulnerable to security threats. Hence, software updates are important as it improves the security levels and also ensure that you don’t miss out on any security patch that comes with it.
  3. Role-based access to data: Granting access to patient records based on the roles they assume within a healthcare organization improves overall data security. It also ensures that employees can only access information and perform tasks required to fulfill their jobs.  This greatly protects sensitive data. Similarly, if an employee has been terminated, it is important to revoke access to systems even though they don’t have any malicious intent.
  4. Encrypt sensitive data: Encryption is the key to protecting sensitive data in healthcare practices. It is simply a method of scrambling data so that it cannot be read by any unauthorized person. Encrypting data in transit and at rest prevents hackers from being able to read or use any data even if they happen to gain access to it.
  5. Use different passwords: Never use the same passwords everywhere, even if it is a strong one. It could be tempting to set the same password everywhere for the sake of convenience and easy logging in. But even a single leak of that password puts everything at risk. Hence the best thing to do is force employees to change passwords on a regular basis. So even if cybercriminals steal your login credentials by hacking, access will be blocked as soon as you make the next update.
  6. Perform risk assessments: Conducting regular security risk assessments is an integral part of ensuring that the healthcare organization is prepared and protected. It reveals the areas where your organization’s data is at risk, allowing you to better protect against cyberattacks and enhance data security. Evaluating risks on a regular basis helps a healthcare organization protect against costly and disruptive security breaches.

Data is the lifeblood of any healthcare organization. Healthcare data breaches are happening on a daily basis at an alarming rate. Therefore, it is crucial to take data protection seriously and build robust protection measures not only to prevent malicious breaches and inadvertent access but also to avoid costly consequences.

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