Safeguard Electronic Health Records with These 10 Cybersecurity Practices
Who would’ve thought that the record of someone’s colonoscopy could be the downfall of your business? Alright, maybe we’re being dramatic (and we’re not sure what a hacker would do with that information, nor do we want to know). But the point is, electronic health records are serious business!
Your responsibility as a healthcare provider is to protect your patient’s data from malicious cyberthreats and data breaches. They’re trusting you to safeguard the most private information that’s on record about them. This blog will help you build patient trust by taking care of electronic health records…colonoscopies and all.
Are You Experiencing Any of These Challenges When It Comes to EHR Cybersecurity?
Electronic health records (EHR) are prime targets for malicious actors. HIPAA has 18 Protected Health Identifiers (PHI), including things like names, SSNs, biometric identifiers, and full-face photos.
The Department of Health and Human Sciences claims that these 18 PHI provide more private information than any other breached record.
If you’re surfing the dark web, why settle for a credit card number when you can get an entire medical history? It almost sounds like something out of Mission Impossible! But it’s real, and your healthcare organization needs to be prepared.
Is your practice dealing with any of these EHR cybersecurity challenges?
- Losing track of the user identities that access EHRs
- Not knowing if EHRs are being accessed with malicious intent
- The inability to detect insider threats or malware in real-time
- Inadequate security protocols and lack of visibility into the data-accessing process
If so, here are 10 measures you should implement right away to improve your EHR cybersecurity.
Encryption is the process of encoding your PHI data before it’s sent over a network. It scrambles the information into an unreadable form so that only authorized personnel can access it with a special key or password.
This ensures that any data intercepted by hackers won’t be readable, making it almost impossible for them to identify who the patient is and steal data.
If you’re interested in encrypting your data, your best option would be to work with a managed service provider (MSP), which you can read more about next.
Partner With an MSP
How valuable would it be to work with someone who knows the enemy’s playbook? An MSP handles all things technology. Not only can they protect you from the potential average data breach cost of $10.1 million, but they also create ways to make your daily job easier.
From encryption to automation, an MSP is a one-stop-shop for EHR cybersecurity and building patient trust.
Email Best Practices
Email providers try their best to prevent spam and malicious links, but it’s up to the users to identify social engineering and phishing attempts. Deloitte found that 91% of cyberattacks start with an email, and if that doesn’t scare you, nothing will!
By implementing advanced email filters and training your employees on how to spot suspicious messages, you can stop attacks before they happen. Educate your team to never click links, download attachments, or reply to unsolicited requests for personal information.
Frequent Data Backups
If a breach does occur, frequent data backups can save the day. Back up your EHRs to an off-site location at least once a day so that you can restore data in the event of a ransomware attack or other destructive malware. This ensures minimal data loss and downtime, keeping your practice running as usual.
Physical Security Practices
A forgotten part of EHR cybersecurity, physical security practices protect your servers and devices. Use strong passwords, enable two-factor authentication, restrict access to servers, and keep devices in a locked room. While not directly related to data breaches, physical security reduces the risk of theft and insider threats.
Regular Vulnerability Scans
Vulnerability scans search for weaknesses in your system that could be exploited, such as outdated software or misconfigurations. Perform internal and external vulnerability scans at least once a month, and patch or fix any issues right away. Staying on top of vulnerabilities is key to maintaining a strong cybersecurity strategy.
Consistent System Updates
Nobody likes waiting for their software to update—just staring at the percentage bar as it slowly creeps to 100. But system updates often contain critical security patches to protect against the latest threats, so it’s important to keep software up to date. Set systems to automatically update when possible to avoid falling behind on security.
Regular Staff Cybersecurity Training
Your EHR cybersecurity is only as strong as your least tech-competent employee. We get it—technology is always changing, and it can be hard to keep up, especially for people who aren’t digitally savvy. But regular cybersecurity training reduces human error and teaches best practices to avoid phishing, suspicious emails, weak passwords, and more.
Ensure Staff Understand All Applicable Compliance Regulations (HIPAA & HITECH)
We’re sure everyone at your practice is familiar with how HIPAA and the HITECH Act affect their day-to-day processes, but do they know how it ties into technology? And is everyone aware of the major fines and penalties for non-compliance?
Regular cybersecurity and compliance training helps your team understand their responsibilities in keeping patient data safe and private.
Common Angle: Cybersecurity Your Medical Practice Can Trust
For your EHR cybersecurity, it pays to partner with an MSP that knows its stuff. At Common Angle, we offer everything covered in this blog and more. We’ll work together to decide what makes the most sense for your medical practice, and then we’ll manage it all for you.
You don’t need one more thing on your plate, so our team will take care of it for you. Schedule a consultation today and hear about the results from our other medical care facility clients!