Clinical and healthcare data is a public property that demands complete security as it consists of highly personal information of the patients. Keeping a check on the security of healthcare data is crucial. It is ultimately the responsibility of healthcare providers and organizations to protect the integrity of the healthcare data. It is becoming essential to secure healthcare data due to the increasing data breaches within the past few years. There are repeated instances of healthcare data breaches that are further increasing the concern over healthcare data security. Although multiple measures have been taken by government agencies and private stakeholders but to achieve a banking level privacy and security of healthcare data is still a wish undone. Healthcare data is really sensitive and should be kept with high privacy which can be exposed due to carelessness as well as due to every day increasing cyber-attacks. More or less, every healthcare organization underwent a data breach at some point within the past few years. Most of the healthcare organizations are still unable to provide complete security and safety to their healthcare data. According to many surveys and investigations held this year, it has been found that the number of data breaches in the healthcare industry is consistent. To combat the current situation that is to provide complete security and protection to healthcare data, the healthcare industry is in need to focus on the following factors:
- A few of the main reasons for health data breaches is because of restricted budget and limited expertise, less qualified or inexperienced workforce to handle such instances. In this case, the foremost requirements are proper training, cost-effective solutions and incorporation of specialized data security professionals are must-haves.
- When data is uploaded and saved digitally, the threat of its exposure gets higher as compared to paper-based records. There should be a proper assessment of the risk and relevant security solutions for making sure a complete privacy and encryption. The process of transferring data within and across the healthcare organization should be completely private and should never be shared through portable devices.
- The healthcare organizations should pay heed to the security infrastructures by implementing security standards outlined by the HIPAA privacy rule. It might include the adoption of NIST Cybersecurity framework, or the organization can design its specialized data protection mechanism. Only by analyzing all the loopholes in the security of the health data and by adopting best security practices, healthcare providers can secure their data.
- Securing healthcare data sometimes goes beyond HIPAA set of rules. In most of the cased, the data breach occurs due to a mere negligence of the data handler. There are examples of stolen laptops and forgotten USBs that lead to massive data theft. To make sure complete safety of the healthcare data, health care providers must look beyond the set of privacy rules and should make it a shared responsibility across the work floor.
Some of the best practices and tools utilized by healthcare organizations are:
- a) Secure Cloud Security Gateways
- b) Encryption and Tokenization
- c) Security Event and Information Management (SIEM) Systems
- d) De-identification and Controlled Data Access
Implementing this kind of advanced technological tools for securing healthcare data, provides proper protection and security and keeps it safe from hacking. Security of the healthcare data is of grave concern to the technology leadership. A report has identified cybersecurity threats as top management and performance challenges facing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Cybersecurity incidents and breaches pose a significant risk to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive data,” said OIG HHS. IT leadership needs expedite efforts to ensure maximum health data security across healthcare organizations and data centers to save providers from massive losses and penalties.