Private practices continue to add and integrate technology into their offices as a way to streamline workflow, improve patient experience, and capture more revenue. But more healthcare technology requires increased attention to cyber security.
There are more reasons than ever to put electronic health record (EHR) security at the top of your independent practice to-do list. Read on for the top four.
It’s the law.
As you know, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability of Act (HIPAA) requires practices to prevent unauthorized access to Protected Health Information (PHI). However, you may not be familiar with the all of the specific security measures HIPAA requires regarding password creation, employee training, data encryption, and firewall / antivirus software implementation.
The good news? As more practices look to EHR systems that are cloud- or software-as-service- (SaaS) based, staying HIPAA compliant may actually be getting a bit easier. Leading practice management and EHR vendors manage the lion’s share of system HIPAA compliance for you (including regulatory updates), which can be a relief for small independent practices that, unlike hospitals, often have limited IT resources.
Healthcare data breaches are on the rise.
Today’s cybercriminals recognize that your private practice is a treasure trove of personal and highly sensitive information, and they’re working hard to get their hands on it. The Ponemon Institute’s 5th Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy and Security of Healthcare Data says cybercriminal attacks on healthcare systems were up 125%, and most organizations aren’t prepared to deal with the threat to their security.
The rise in security breaches has prompted the top EHR vendors to beef up their already impressive security measures. These providers store data off site in world-class data centers with military-grade encryption and redundancy, safeguarding PHI from unauthorized access.
The U.S. ranks in the top 5 for natural disasters.
The Annual Disaster Statistical Review of 2013 reported that in the last ten years, the United States ranked in the top 5 countries hit by natural disasters. No one expects a natural disaster to strike—but they happen and they can wreak havoc on an unprepared private practice. If your area is hit by an earthquake, flood, fire, or tornado, you are at risk of losing invaluable patient medical records and practice information.
So how do you best protect against a potential data loss? Most IT professionals say that a secure cloud system is the key to keeping your practice doors open after a disaster or major data loss. Because data is stored off site not on a local server, you can access it anytime, anywhere with a secure login even if practice devices are lost.
Patients are concerned.
Patient fears are real—from becoming a victim of identity theft to maintaining personal privacy. That’s why it’s the private practice’s special responsibility to keep their information out of harm’s way. Research shows that 45 percent of patients are “very concerned” about a security breach involving their personal health information. Because they’re worried, 25% are less likely to share their personal health information. In fact, 54% say they are likely to change providers in the event of a security breach.
Investing in a system with a proven track record for security is the first step towards addressing your patients’ concerns. Established, trusted vendors often have resources that surpass smaller EHR companies, which means tighter security. Be sure your EHR vendor has been certified as HIPAA compliant and offers additional resources to your independent practice to help with other security measures. After you are confident in your EHR’s security, you may want to communicate with your patients about the steps you take to keep their info safe.
Get more tips on cybersecurity. Download our exclusive guide Boost EHR security to learn more about how to protect your independent physician practice against cyber threats and to find out the five security-enhancing features you’ve got to have.