For a healthcare organization to have the highest level of cybersecurity possible, it takes more than meeting regulatory compliance standards. The entire organization must be proactive with constant assessments, periodic testing, and equipping employees with best practices to keep client information secure.
In the last few years, the healthcare industry has witnessed numerous security breaches within organizations that were in compliance with industry standards. It isn't enough anymore to simply get by with minimal standards. Incidents occur when you least expect it, and anyone can be a victim.
"In 2018, the healthcare sector saw 15 million patient records compromised in 503 breaches. Three times the amount seen in 2017, according to the Protenus Breach Barometer. But just over halfway through 2019, the number skyrocketed with potentially more than 25 million patient records breached."
What are the Standards for Data Security in Healthcare?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was established in 1996 and sets the standards for sensitive patient data protection. Any organization that deals with Protected Health Information (PHI) must have network, physical, and process security measures in place to follow HIPAA Compliance.
With more healthcare companies moving to computerized systems such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs), the need for HIPAA compliance is more critical than it has ever been.
It's important to note that HIPAA does not audit an organization unless there is enough probable cause to do so. A cybersecurity breach would be one such reason, so organizations must constantly keep up with security protocols to avoid any incidents that could lead to a HIPAA audit. If an organization does find itself in the middle of an audit, it's usually too late and should expect repercussions.
Added Security Through 3rd Party Assessments
The best practice for an organization to assess themselves and make sure internal security protocols comply with standards is to hire a 3rd party company to run a security audit. Having an outside entity look at any gaps in security compliance is always a good added measure to take. Having a legitimate assessment done will also hold that entity accountable if there are any cybersecurity breaches in the future.
For example, InSync Healthcare Solutions recently conducted a HIPAA Security Risk Assessment that was done by Tampa Bay Compliance (TBC), a third party, independent security firm. The assessment was designed to test the security of InSync's servers and work stations while evaluating policies and procedures. The results are then cross-referenced with HIPAA standards and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) requirements.
We are proud (and not surprised!) to say that InSync passed with flying colors and received our HIPAA Security Risk Assessment Attestation.
"TBC is pleased to affirm that InSync has taken the necessary steps to qualify as a TBC Security Assessment Business Associate and demonstrated their good standing in achieving HIPAA compliance... vendors may rest assured that InSync is dedicated to maintaining compliance with HIPAA in order to operate a secure and compliant organization."
heALTH Industry Cybersecurity Practices Managing Threats and Protecting Patients
While the healthcare industry sees plenty of external security attacks, but the biggest threat comes from within. Internal errors cause more breaches than hacking and malware attacks. Typically, cybersecurity issues are found when an employee is not following the correct data security protocols. This includes phishing emails, mishandling of information and accessing data from an insecure network.
"Researchers at Michigan State University and John Hopkins University analyzed data breaches reported to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR) over the past 7 years and found that more than half of breaches were the result on internal negligence."
For an entire organization to fully secure information, everyone who has access to confidential data must comply with the proper measures. Understanding the risk and holding everyone accountable shows that an organization cares about its cybersecurity and client/patient well-being.
Part of InSync's security risk analysis focused on internal compliance (we're happy to report we received a high quality rating). Added measures InSync is taking include data security training. Every InSync employee is required to take quarterly HIPAA compliance courses which teach best practices for handling client data. There was also a phishing button implemented on every employee email account dashboard to report attempts. If the button is clicked, it immediately alerts our IT department and the issue is handled accordingly.
Trent Baker, InSync Healthcare Solutions' Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), expressed how well-informed the entire InSync organization is when it comes to data security.
"We have a very security-aware personnel base. Everyone that sits behind a computer here is trained and understands what threats to look out for while following standard compliance. We also do internal phishing campaigns to test how we are doing on a regular basis. Normally within our industry, roughly 25-35% of employees fall for phishing attacks. Here at InSync, we run at 2%. Everyone at InSync truly cares about keeping data and client information safe. That's something I'm very proud of when it comes to this company."
Keeping Information Safe is a Team Effort
In the ever-evolving healthcare industry, the number of security breaches is growing. There are numerous ways information can be compromised. Moreover, there are just as many resources and best practices to keep data safe.
Complying with national standards is a great place to start, but taking added measures is essential. Hiring a 3rd party to run a security assessment along with internal monitoring helps keep those best practices accounted for. Making sure that the entire organization is educated on correct protocol keeps every individual accountable.
Anyone who handles confidential and sensitive data is expected to go above and beyond to keep that information safe. InSync Healthcare Solutions takes data security extremely seriously and works tirelessly to maintain the highest level of cybersecurity health.
Want to learn more about data security? Find out what type of data breach threats the healthcare industry faces and read expert tips to help defend your organization from a cyber attack.