With the rate by which the healthcare industry has and will continue to grow, these organisations must be aware of certain obligations. Outside of providing world-class care to their patients, healthcare organisations must place extreme emphasis on protecting their sensitive data and closing any gaps which leave them vulnerable for a data breach. As with any […]
With the rate by which the healthcare industry has and will continue to grow, these organisations must be aware of certain obligations. Outside of providing world-class care to their patients, healthcare organisations must place extreme emphasis on protecting their sensitive data and closing any gaps which leave them vulnerable for a data breach.
As with any data breach, regardless of vertical, the impact of a data breach can be detrimental to any organisation. From a compliance standpoint, healthcare organisations must contend with steep penalties and fines, in addition to unwanted attention from auditors and a blemish on their reputation that comes with negative publicity.
There are many steps by which healthcare organisations can protect themselves, but here’s a look at a few ways these organisations often leave themselves vulnerable to data breaches and security threats.
Gaps in Encryption Between Decades of Data Collection
As new technology is implemented across the organisation over several years or decades, the environment can become overly complex and older records may not be as secure or well-integrated into the current systems. Healthcare organisations must manage databases that are rife with extremely sensitive information; from Social Security numbers to HIPAA specific medical record data, this is the kind of data cyber thieves salivate over.
Without having the systems and processes in place to identify and find their sensitive data, healthcare organisations are ill equipped to quickly locate old, outdated patient records which fail to meet compliance regulation standards since they were retained at a time before these regulations were implemented.
Provided that processes for data classification and identification have been put into practice, healthcare organisations should be able to decide how to handle their sensitive data and figure how to keep that data far from the reaches of cyber criminals.
Attempting to Manage Data They Don’t Know About
One of the most detrimental things a healthcare organisation can do is fail to understand their data. Without knowing about the types of data housed in their databases, these organisations are essentially blind to the types of attacks cyber criminals are eager to employ.
In one healthcare organisation, there might be multiple departments and employees with varying levels of access, thus resulting in disorganised, missing, or badly secured patient data. Because of this, there might be a mountain of data the organisation isn’t even aware exists.
So how does one protect something they don’t even know about?
Again, this is another prime example of why examining all data, prioritising relative security risk, and thus classifying this data, any healthcare organisation can shed light on these unknown threats. Not to mention compliance agencies will be kept at bay if they know that the organisation is taking steps to protect all their sensitive data and reducing their exposure to risk.
Prioritising Risk & Management of Different Data Types
If there is one truth facing all healthcare institutions, it’s that all the data they collect from patients is not created equal and therefore must be addressed accordingly. Not only that, but the amount of sensitive data retained can be overwhelming considering its abundance.
As healthcare businesses must contend with revolving door of new and returning patients, not taking the time to prioritise the different types of sensitive data is only asking for trouble. Part of this task should consider the level of risk each sensitive data type poses if a data breach were to happen. Putting a plan in place to protect sensitive data means coming to grips with the consequences should data become compromised.
For example, protecting health insurance billing information is critical for many reasons, but perhaps personal health records or any personally identifiable information, like social security numbers should be the have the highest priority with a vigorous compliance and security safeguards in place.
Identifying, classifying and prioritising the security required to protect this data may seem like a gargantuan task; perhaps even feel daunting. The reality is that malicious parties out there have their own reasons for committing data breaches against entities and organisations of every size. For legal, financial and moral reasons, every healthcare organisation must realise the risk they are exposing themselves to if they fail to address their sensitive data.
After receiving his Bachelor’s in Journalism from West Virginia University in 2013, Stephen has been hooked on writing professionally ever since. Stephen is a content creator from Wheeling, WV, who specialises in blogs and loves connecting with folks via social media.