Over the past several years, most healthcare facilities have transitioned to electronic recordkeeping. Online data storage and management offers several benefits to these facilities and their patients. Ease of access, cost effectiveness, and eco-friendliness are all valuable reasons to switch to digital data systems. That said, moving to the online world comes with its own challenges and responsibilities. What do healthcare facilities need to successfully manage files online? What risks do these facilities face? How can they ensure better security for themselves, their employees, and their patients? When you ask the right questions and adopt the right practices, you can improve your data management and defenses, keeping your facility safe from both external and internal harm. Find out more about how to ensure healthcare records stay secure in your facility with this guide.
Know the Threats To Watch Out for
The first step to improving your security is knowing what kinds of threats you face. From sophisticated cyberattacks to accidental human error, healthcare facilities must prepare for a variety of risks. You must build defenses for exterior threats such as hackers, phishing attempts, or viruses. However, businesses should also focus on threats from interior sources. Human error—either by employees or by the patients themselves—is a major cause of security breaches. Healthcare facilities must take all of these threats into account when reviewing and revising their security policies and procedures. It can help to recruit a third-party consultant to gain an objective analysis of your current defenses and vulnerabilities. You can then use this information to target your efforts accordingly.
Your patients play an important role in protecting their own data. Unfortunately, what patients do with their own medical records is out of your control. However, you can still help them by providing education and other resources about the importance of keeping their records secure. Create and offer pamphlets detailing common security mistakes and how to avoid them. You should also take the time to sit down with patients and discuss record security and privacy with them. By providing this information, you equip your patients with the knowledge they need to keep their financial, personal, and medical records safe.
Patients aren’t the only ones who can misuse data. Proper resources and training are even more crucial for your staff. Every employee in your facility should receive consistent and up-to-date training about how to recognize and react to potential threats. It might be a good idea to host regular workshops or other courses on issues such as phishing attempts. You should also ensure every employee knows how to safely and accurately use any software and devices the job requires. Digital solutions are constantly changing. Make sure your employees keep up with every innovation or equipment upgrade by providing thorough training. Even simple responsibilities, such as creating a strong password or signing off computers and other devices when finished with your work, can go a long way to reduce security risks.
Keep Strategic Backups
It’s essential for facilities—and any other business—to keep backups of all of their data files. There are many clever backup options that can grant you peace of mind. You can choose any or all of them to best secure your facility’s records. Onsite backups, such as mirrored servers, are a convenient way to restore data quickly if there is an issue with your primary servers. However, you shouldn’t rely on just an onsite backup. Try to also back up files physically, offsite, or both. Offsite backups will protect your data in the event of a security breach to your facility. This will also prove invaluable in the event of a natural disaster that damages your equipment or physical records. Keep in mind that you must encrypt all offsite backups to ensure only authorized users can access them. Physical backups can also prove useful. Having up-to-date physical copies allows you to access records and other information even in the event of viruses or ransomware that hinder your access to this data.
Review and Revise Access Policies
Access control is an essential part of how to ensure healthcare records stay secure. As mentioned above, inside threats are a crucial risk for healthcare facilities to consider. Look at your current policies and employees. Who has access? Who needs access? Make sure your system is only open to necessary, authorized individuals. Some access control measures are simple. For example, it’s important to create strong password requirements and use two-factor authentication. You should also change passwords and other access control measures immediately after an authorized user leaves their position. Many businesses fail to quickly adjust to changes in staff and access privileges, which can lead to major vulnerabilities in your security.
Conduct Risk Assessments
All too often, hackers and other threats expose weaknesses you didn’t even know existed in your security system. Security audits, vulnerability testing, and other forms of risk assessments can help you identify these weaknesses before others have the chance to exploit them. Hire consultants or other third-party services to survey and test your current defense systems. This is also a good way to get an objective view of your current data management system. In addition to locating your weaknesses, these processes will also give you the data you need to better focus your improvement efforts. When you know which areas are functioning properly, you can dedicate more of your time and resources to the areas that need it the most.
Use a Cloud System You Can Trust
Cloud-based systems offer the services and security you need to manage patient records successfully. Migrating to a system such as Microsoft Azure allows you to take advantage of efficient programs, expert software, and advanced security measures. Furthermore, Azure gives you the tools you need to stay compliant and up to date with local, federal, and industry regulations such as HIPAA and HITECH. On top of that, you can work with a cloud management service to optimize the security, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of Microsoft Azure. Atmosera’s Azure compliance monitoring services help you achieve the standards you need to keep patients and their records safe. With a reliable cloud system and management services you can trust, you can maintain patient records with absolute confidence and peace of mind.