Best Tips to Secure Private Health Data

Best Tips to Secure Private Health Data

Share This Post

Table of Contents

A fool-proof healthcare data protection program goes beyond compliance. Protecting data in the healthcare industry can be a challenging task. Healthcare providers and their business associates have to balance protecting patient privacy while making sure they deliver quality patient care and meet the strict regulatory requirements created by HIPAA.
Since protected health information (PHI) is one of the most sensitive forms of private data of an individual (and most valuable for criminals), the guidelines for healthcare providers and other organizations that handle, use and transmit patient information have very strict data protection requirements which when not fulfilled comes with hefty penalties and fines.
Rather than mandating the use of certain technologies, HIPAA requires covered entities to make sure that patient information is not just secure but also accessible only by authorized persons, used only for authorized purposes. Each entity can decide what security measures will suffice to achieve these objectives.
As a result of increased regulatory requirements for healthcare data protection, healthcare organizations that go for a proactive approach to implement the best practices for healthcare security are most likely to have continued compliance and least likely to suffer costly data breaches.

HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules

HIPAA regulations broadly impact healthcare providers in the U.S. It is up to healthcare providers to ensure that they are up-to-date on the latest requirements and select vendors that are in compliance with HIPAA regulations. HIPAA has two key components related to healthcare data protection:

The HIPAA Security Rule

It focuses on the creation, use, receipt and maintenance of electronic personal health information by HIPAA-covered organizations. The Security Rule has guidelines and standards for administrative, technical and physical handling of personal health information.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule

This requires safeguards to be in place to protect the privacy of personal health information, including medical records, insurance information, and other private details. The privacy rule limits what information can be used in what way and disclosed to third parties without the patient’s authorization.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule is related primarily to operational situations, preventing providers from using a patient’s PHI in ways not previously agreed upon by the patient and limiting the information that can be shared with other entities without prior consent. The HIPAA Security Rule is more focused on the technical aspects of safeguarding personal health information and sets standards in place for how health information should be protected to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of healthcare data.
Increased Use of Electronic Health Records Increase Healthcare Data Breaches
Research published in 2016 by the Ponemon Institute found that criminal attacks have increased by 125% since 2010 and are now the leading cause of healthcare data breaches. Most healthcare organizations are unprepared to protect patient data against an ever-changing landscape of security threats, according to this research.
Ponemon surveyed more than 90 entities covered by HIPAA and found that more than 85% had experienced a healthcare data breach, and 50% of those breaches were attributed to criminal attacks. Most of the data breaches were small – impacting less than 400 patient records, but some were large and very costly. The average cost of a healthcare data breach affecting a healthcare organization between 2014 and 2015 was $2 million.
In order to protect data from cybercriminals, healthcare organizations have to implement robust security measures that will work against a number of threats.
Data Privacy

Protecting Healthcare Data

These seven best practices for healthcare cybersecurity aim to keep up with the evolving threat landscape, addressing threats to privacy and data protection on endpoints and in the cloud, and safeguarding data while it is in transit, at rest or in use. All of this requireds a multi-faceted, sophisticated approach to security.
1. Educating Healthcare Staff
The human element is one of the biggest threats to security to the healthcare field especially. Simple human error or negligence can result in disastrous and expensive consequences for healthcare organizations. Security awareness training equips healthcare employees with the needed knowledge for making smart decisions and using appropriate caution when handling patient data.
2. Restricting Access to Data
Implementing access controls bolsters healthcare data protection by restricting access to patient information to only those users who need access to perform their jobs. Access restrictions require user authentication, ensuring that only authorized users have access to protected data. A multi-factor authentication is a good approach, requiring users to validate that they are the person authorized to access certain data and applications using two or more validation methods like: is a healthcare communication application that is completely HIPAA compliant and restricts access to data to unauthorized users by having this multi-faceted authentication, including PIN, password, and biometric log-in. understands the importance of data security in healthcare.
3. Implementing Data Usage Controls
Protective data controls go beyond the benefits of access controls and monitoring to ensure that risky and malicious data activity can be flagged or blocked in real-time. Healthcare organizations use these data controls to actually block specific actions involving sensitive data, such as web uploads, unauthorized email sends, copying to external drives, or printing. Data discovery and classification play a vital role in supporting this process by making sure that sensitive data can be identified and tagged to receive the proper level of protection.
4. Logging and Monitoring Use
Logging all access and usage data is also important, enabling providers to monitor which users are accessing what information, applications, and other resources when and from what devices or locations. These logs prove valuable for auditing purposes as well and help organizations strengthen protective measures when necessary. An audit trail will help organizations pinpoint previous entry points, know the cause, and evaluate damages when an incident occurs.
5. Encrypting Data
Encryption is one of the most useful data protection methods for healthcare organizations. By encrypting data in transit and at rest, healthcare providers make it difficult for attackers to decipher patient information even if they gain access to the data. fully encrypts the communication that takes place in the application, making sensitive patient information secure and safe from cyberattacks.
6. Securing Mobile Devices
Mobile devices are becoming increasingly common in healthcare organizations. Whether it is a physician using a smartphone to access information to help them treat a patient or an administrative worker processing insurance claims – mobile devices are being used to do it all. Mobile device security alone entails a multitude of security measures such as encrypting application data, enforcing the use of passwords, managing all devices, settings and configurations, educating users on mobile device security best practices, and monitoring email accounts, attachments to prevent malware infections. is a mobile and web-based, secure messaging healthcare app that takes care of securing sensitive patient information from all these angles. Since it is an application, all communication is secure, encrypted and private locked with a strong password, pin and biometric system. The application locks itself after a minute of un-use therefore, protecting itself against unauthorized access.
7. Risk Assessments
While an audit trail helps to identify the causes and other valuable details of an incident after it occurs, proactive prevention is also important. It is important to conduct regular risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities or weak points in a healthcare organization’s security and fix them.
The importance of privacy and security in healthcare cannot be undermined because doing so can have hefty consequences. This is why is one of the best choices out there for secure healthcare communication.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Top Posts

Do you want to learn more about

drop us a line and keep in touch

HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Hosting