Healthcare facilities large and small face a myriad of compliance and regulatory-related issues, from ensuring things like medical waste is professionally handled, to making sure patient data and information remains secure.
One of the biggest challenges many medical and healthcare-related companies are facing right now is the need for more rigorous IT and cyber security.
According to BeckersHospitalReview.com, based on a report from Risk Based Security, there were 4,149 total data and information breaches in 2016, exposing more than 4.2 billion records.
Among those, the medical sector account for 9.2 percent of total reported breaches.
Not being adequately protected against such threats represents a big problem for businesses in the healthcare industry, and the following are some best practices to follow to protect your organization and your patients.
Conduct a Risk Audit
One of the biggest problems many healthcare facilities, large and small, have regarding cyber and IT security is the fact that they don’t know where weakness exists. In fact, the may not even realize what a threat cyber security issues are to their organizations and their patient’s information.
Many healthcare organizations face budgetary issues as well, however, so doing a thorough risk assessment and audit can be helpful.
It not only shows you where there are potential issues and areas where threats could evolve, but it also helps you tailor your IT security spending to only the places where it’s most needed.
A big problem, particularly in smaller healthcare facilities and organizations, is as simple as not staying up-to-date on things such as anti-virus software and protection.
It’s important that everything remains fully updated, and this is best handled by either assigning a point person to ensure it’s done or setting up your system to complete automatic updates.
Additionally, you’ll want to check with the developer of your EHR software to see whether or not they maintain a connection to the platform.
Many software developers will do this so they can make updates and provide support, which is fine, but if that is the case, you should make sure there is a firewall in place.
Many healthcare organizations are also opting to request their EHR developer disable their access when they’re not working with the software.
Comprehensive Employee Training
Your first line of defense against cybersecurity threats isn’t necessarily based on the technological protections you put in place.
Even more important than that is the role of employees.
Just as with environmental and waste management compliance issues, employees need to be thoroughly and regularly trained on best practices for IT and cyber security.
Employees need to understand not just how to protect the organization, but also why it’s so essential.
Training should be held every year, even for long-time employees, because this is an area that’s continuously evolving and best practices are always changing.
Protecting the information of patients is one of the top priorities for medical facilities, and with cyber attacks become an increasing threat, it’s more important than ever to be proactive against potential breaches.