Healthcare Data Security: The Importance of Making it your Top Priority

What is your organization’s most valuable asset? No matter the size of your business, the answer is DATA – and there’s a lot of it! The world has gone from talking about gigabytes to terabytes to petabytes and beyond in a very short space of time, and this exponential rise in data storage is set to continue. We often hear breaking news items regarding major data security breaches, but it can happen to businesses great or small. The good news is there are ways to mitigate the risks. However, when it comes to healthcare data privacy in particular, the way in which information is processed and accessed electronically in the 21st century requires the integration of many healthcare data security software systems across many organizations or departments, from a GP’s office to a Hospital Radiology Department, and this requires unique regulations and compliance, including the most coveted – HIPAA Data Compliance. 

What Do We Mean by Data Security?

Put simply, data security is the process of protecting data from unauthorized access and data corruption throughout its lifecycle. In the healthcare environment, employees will process and save vast amounts of data every day, and they, like their patients, trust that it is safely secured. Especially in current times of COVID-19, when more and more employees are working from home and accessing data or systems remotely, security is key. Adopting robust data security measures could include strong password protection, multi-factor authentication, session time-outs, encryption, firewalls, installing antimalware and antivirus software, and, possibly the most important, mandatory employee training on cybersecurity awareness. 

Contact Our Experts Today

Healthcare Data Security Challenges 

Long gone are the days when patient records are written upon paper charts. Today’s electronic health record (EHR) will contain the complete medical history along with personally identifiable information (PII), collating data from various departments, and being accessed by personnel on-site and remotely. The rise in the adoption rate of new technologies has therefore increased the potential security risks to healthcare data privacy. Due to the unique sensitivity of medical information, and in consideration of how long medical records are to be stored (usually eight years since last attendance or 25 years for obstetrics), strict regulations have been introduced, such as HIPAA data compliance (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 1996) and GDPR data security compliance (European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation 2018) and healthcare providers need to ensure they are compliant.

The primary focus of the HIPAA Security Rule is to “protect the privacy of individuals’ health information while allowing covered entities to adopt new technologies to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care.” and covers organizations that handle PHI (protected health information) in the US. GDPR goes one step further since it imposes obligations on organizations anywhere in the world, so long as they target or collect data related to people in the EU. GDPR Data Security Compliance focuses on protecting EU citizens’ PII, having a much broader scope than HIPAA data compliance (for example, it covers sensitive personal data such as ethnic origin or religion) and is the toughest privacy and security law in the world.

HIPAA data compliance and GDPR data security compliance should not be thought of as a regulatory burden but as an opportunity to review and enhance the privacy and security of PII and PHI, including:

  • Appointing additional resources e.g. Data Protection Officer
  • Carrying out a risk analysis for better healthcare data privacy strategy
  • Adopt systems to continuously monitor and identify breaches
  • Built-in healthcare data privacy from the word go when introducing new technology
Explore More

Is Your Data Safe in the Cloud?

Yes! Contrary to what you may feel, cloud application modernization often makes data more secure than on-premise systems. When you consider data center employees, they exist solely to protect your data and that cloud data centers keep pace with the very latest in cyber-security software, and with cutting-edge technology, the risks can be effectively managed. A growing number of healthcare providers are now using cloud computing services to effectively process, store, and transmit PHI. These third-party businesses are considered as associates, performing services on behalf of a HIPAA-covered organization. You may read or hear statements like “No cloud platform can be truly HIPAA compliant” but it’s important to review their credentials. For example, as part of AWS cloud modernization, AWS provides a detailed AWS HIPAA Compliance Program, so cloud-based services for PII and PHI should not be dismissed. 

The Impact of a Data Breach or Loss

Whatever method you choose for data storage, investing in the highest level of data security is essential. The repercussions of not adopting this strategy could mean so much more to a business than the obvious upheaval and inconvenience of lost data, especially when it comes to storing personal or sensitive information. Along with the associated cost implications of data recovery, healthcare organizations could experience a publicity backlash, a huge burden on resources when communicating with all those affected, its brand and credibility can be damaged, trust and reputation within the industry destroyed, and the possibility of heavy financial penalties that it can’t recover from. In addition, within the healthcare industry, individuals may incur criminal penalties.

That’s why SourceFuse takes data protection and security for their healthcare customers extremely seriously.

Contact Us

The SourceFuse Approach to Data Security

It is possible that some organizations will weigh up the odds between the risk of a data breach against the cost of implementing robust data security. However, as an organization grows, the exponential growth in data requirements and associated regulatory compliances can often be underestimated. SourceFuse takes the principle that, for the above-mentioned reasons, they are ethically obliged to provide the most secure systems for your data. When developing a strategic alignment with companies of any size, SourceFuse takes the time to fully understand your business and data security needs. It provides the reassurance of compliant security cloud computing services, allowing you to focus on your core business innovation, and in doing so become part of your long-term vision.

When it comes to data security, start as you mean to go on, and invest wisely for the future.