Data protection is a big concern for all businesses but it’s especially important for medical practices. You hold a lot of sensitive data about your patients and losing that data could have catastrophic effects. You will lose the trust of those patients and it’s not likely that they will come back to you again. In some cases, it may be ruled that you were in breach of data protection laws and you could face penalties for that as well. A serious data loss could mean the end of your business entirely, so it’s vital that you protect your data properly. This is becoming a lot harder as the medical industry becomes more reliant on technology and the majority of patient records are stored electronically. A lot of modern medical equipment also holds sensitive patient data and they are vulnerable to attack as well. If you run a medical business, or you’re thinking about setting one up, you need to follow these important data protection rules.
Understand The Law
Understanding the law around data practice in the medical industry is so important because you need to ensure that you are doing everything by the book. As long as you are following the law to the letter, you will not be held accountable in the event of a data loss. But if you are not following the correct procedure and data is lost as a result, you put your business at risk. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is the most important piece of legislation that you need to understand. It sets out the standards for data privacy and gives you clear guidelines on how to process insurance claims and information. If you are not following the protocol set out by HIPAA, you are breaking the law and any data loss could have serious consequences for you and your business.
The laws around data protection are always changing and developing as technology moves forward. Any changes to the way that health insurance works are also likely to bring about new data protection legislation, so it’s important that you keep up to date with any developments and ensure that you are always following the most up to date guidelines.
Hire The Right IT Services
The best way to make sure that you are HIPAA compliant is to hire the right IT services. Managing your IT systems properly and putting the right cyber-security in place is vital if you are going to protect your patient data and avoid any losses, and you need expert advice to help you do that. It’s important that you find a company that specializes in medical IT services, rather than a general IT company. A standard IT company will be able to help you improve efficiency and manage your security, but they will not have an in-depth knowledge of data protection legislation, and so they won’t be able to ensure that you are always HIPAA compliant.
Train Employees Properly
A lot of data loss occurs as a result of a cyber-attack, but accidental loss is still a big problem as well. On a daily basis, a lot of your employees will need to access patient records, so it’s important that you give them the right training. You need to have strict procedures in place for all employees that are accessing patient records and you need to make sure that everybody knows them inside out. Give training on how to send information safely, how to set strong passwords, and set limits on who can access information. Only people that actually need to use patient records should have access because if you limit the number of people that are handling sensitive data, you reduce the chances of accidental loss.
The right training can also help you to avoid cyber-attacks as well. One of the more common ways that criminals will gain access to your system is through emails containing malicious links. If you or one of your employees click on these links, it will open you up to data theft. But as long as you give your employees training so they can spot these kinds of emails and report them right away, you can reduce the chances of a data breach.
Limit Mobile Device Usage
It is becoming more common for people to use their own devices at work, which is a good thing in some respects, but it does open you up to more security issues. When people are using their own mobile devices for work, you cannot always be sure that they have the same level of security software that you have on your own computers. If they are using mobile devices to access sensitive data, that’s a potential problem for you where data protection is concerned. The other major problem with mobile devices is that they are easily lost and could fall into the wrong hands. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use mobile devices at all, but you do need to have a system in place.
Firstly, make sure that all mobile devices have the right security software installed before you allow anybody to access patient records on them. You also need to ensure that people are only using mobile devices when absolutely necessary. Finally, you can set up a remote data deletion system on all mobile devices so if they are lost or stolen, you can immediately wipe them and stop the data from falling into the wrong hands.
Put A Response Plan In Place
Regardless of how well you protect yourself, data loss is always a possibility, so you need to have a response plan in place to deal with it. When data loss occurs, it’s important that you limit the damage and secure your systems as quickly as possible. Hiring the right IT team will help here because they will be able to respond to an attack quickly. Your remote data deletion system will also be an important part of the response plan. You will also need to inform patients that their data has been lost because they may need to take steps to protect themselves as well.
As long as you follow these simple rules, you can protect your patient records properly and avoid catastrophic data loss.