Worried About Data Breaches? We Can Help

Medicus IT

By Medicus IT

As technology advances and healthcare businesses continue to collect more and more patient data, so does the threat of data breaches and cybersecurity attacks. Patient data is highly valuable on the dark web, which is why healthcare continues to be a target-rich environment for bad actors. Find out why Medicus IT can help you maintain security in your organization to give you - and your patients - peace of mind. 

How to prevent data breaches in healthcare

The reality is, there is no magic pill when it comes to preventing breaches or cyber-attacks. Threat actors are continually changing their methods and improving their game, making security a moving target. Preventing data breaches requires a good foundational understanding of what breaches are, how they happen, the causes, and how to prevent them. Medicus IT is the starting point for how to handle your data breach concerns - read more to understand the big picture of data breaches and how to help minimize the risk of having one. 

What are breaches in healthcare?

A breach in healthcare is any unauthorized use or disclosure of protected health information that violates the Privacy Rule as outlined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Breaches could be as small as one to ten people or thousands all at once. Breaches compromise security and patient privacy and can ultimately tarnish the reputation of a healthcare organization. 

Procedure around notification of a breach ranges from alerting individuals if 10 or more people are affected; or if 500 or more individuals have been impacted, the media, and potentially the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, must be notified to ensure that the breach is addressed in a timely manner. All major distractions from providing care to patients.

Medicus IT cybersecurity data breaches image of digital locks over typing hands

How do data breaches happen in healthcare?

Data breaches in healthcare can happen in a split second or over many months with planned precision. From loss of information (i.e., a lost flash drive with a patient database for marketing) to a hacking incident, or an employee disclosing information to a person who is not authorized to receive protected health information, a breach can be devastating, and in many cases, preventable. The simplest oversight of leaving protected health information in plain sight at the front check-in desk or not logging out of a session of charting in an electronic chart in an exam room can lead to a breach. 

What is the #1 cause of healthcare data breaches?

The number one cause of healthcare IT data breaches in 2021 was hacking. Unauthorized access, theft, improper disposal, and loss of information were other leading causes. Having a partner like Medicus IT means your healthcare organization has access to the tools and resources to help combat these types of healthcare data breaches altogether from happening to your organization. 

How to Prevent Data Breaches in Healthcare: 5 Prevention Tips

Preparation is the key to success in healthcare IT security, and with these five important tips, you can minimize the potential for data breaches in healthcare and start paving a road to a healthier IT structure for your organization.

1. Evaluate your current IT infrastructure to minimize your attack surface

  • Conduct regular security scans of your system, audit and limit the number of devices being used and any smart technology in the building or facility (smartwatches, wearables, etc.). Perform annual security audits to keep up with changes in cybersecurity efforts.

2. Ensure different and appropriate levels of access

  • Ensure different and appropriate levels of access - Create role-based access for employees who are authorized to access healthcare records. For example, a front desk employee should not have the same access as a nurse, medical assistant, or physician.

3. Provide ongoing training and education for staff

  • Keep your staff in the know by providing regular training on cybersecurity and HIPAA, how to prevent healthcare data breaches, and what to do when they discover a breach. There can never be too much education when it comes to protecting the privacy of patients. 
4. Keep tabs on personal devices
  • It’s difficult to manage or control what employees do with their personal devices. Technology has provided people with the ability to access protected health information from phone applications, so it stands to reason that people want to use something that is quick and easy. You can, however, create a policy that outlines what apps can be used while at work, where devices can be used, etc., to prevent potential breaches.
5. Update software on a regular basis
  • Just like your smartphone updates regularly, you need to do the same with your IT infrastructure and software to avoid potential threats. Software updates provide patches and tools to eliminate malware or known vulnerabilities. Without these updates, holes appear in your software, allowing new malware to infect your system. Updates may appear to be time-consuming, but it’s time well spent to prevent potential healthcare data breaches.  

Medicus IT Has the Security You Need to Help Prevent Breaches

Data breaches in healthcare are scary, but most are also preventable. Medicus IT has a full suite of tools, resources, and dedicated cybersecurity experts to bring your organization to the next level of health information protection. When you analyze your current state, you may realize that Medicus IT has been your solution all along. Together, we drive healthcare forward™. Connect with us and find out why Medicus IT is your IT solution. 

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