Top Tips for Securing Private Health Data

Securing Private Health Data

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Organizations should look for a robust healthcare data protection program that goes beyond compliance. Here are some of the top tips for protecting patient data against new types of data threats today.

Protecting data in the healthcare industry is a challenging task. Securing Private Health Data and Data security in healthcare organizations has become a major concern for this reason. Healthcare providers and their business associates have to balance between protecting patient privacy while ensuring quality patient care delivery and meeting regulatory requirements of HIPAA. Protected health information is one of the most sensitive private data of an individual and it is because of this reason that guidelines for healthcare providers and other organizations that use, handle, and transmit patient information include strict data protection requirements. These come with a penalty and hefty fines if they are not met properly.

Rather than mandating the use of certain technologies, HIPAA requires covered entities to make sure that PHI is secure, and accessible only by authorized persons, used only for authorized purposes. However, HIPAA also states that it is up to each covered entity to determine what security measures are needed in place to achieve these goals.

As a result of increasing regulatory requirements for healthcare data protection and Securing Private Health Data, a healthcare organization that is taking a proactive approach to implementing the best practices for healthcare security is best equipped for compliance. They are also at a lower risk of suffering costly data breaches. Let’s look at the HIPAA privacy and security rules and the top 9 data protection best practices for healthcare organizations.

HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules

HIPAA regulations impact healthcare providers in the U.S. It is up to the healthcare providers and business associates to make sure that they are updated on the latest requirements and are in compliance. HIPAA has two key components related to healthcare data protection:

The HIPAA Security Rule

This rule sets guidelines and standards for administrative, technical, and physical handling of personal health information. It focuses on securing the creation, use, receipt, and maintenance of electronic personal health information by HIPAA-covered organizations.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule

The privacy rule limits what information can be used and in what way, and how it should be disclosed to third parties. Privacy rule covers primary operational situations. It requires safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information including medical records, insurance information, and other private details.

Protecting Healthcare Data

Here are the top 10 best practices for keeping healthcare data secure. These will also help healthcare organizations keep pace with the evolving threat landscape, and address threats to privacy and data protection on endpoints and in the cloud, while safeguarding data while it is in transit, at rest, and in use.

1. Appoint a Security Officer

By having an individual accountable for assuring HIPAA compliance, there is a clear responsibility and authority for keeping the organization on the right path. The Security Officer reviews policies and procedures regularly, assures staff are educated and responds to questions as they arise.

2. Educate the Healthcare Staff

The human element is one of the biggest threats to security across all industries – especially in the healthcare field. A simple human error or negligence can have heavy and disastrous consequences for healthcare organizations. It is important to educate the healthcare staff. Security awareness training equips healthcare employees with the requisite knowledge needed to make smart decisions and be cautious when handling patient data.

3. Implement Data Usage Controls

Protective data controls go beyond the benefits of access controls and monitoring to ensure that risky or malicious data activity can be flagged and blocked in real-time. Organizations can use data controls to block very specific actions involving sensitive data like web uploads, unauthorized email sends, copying to external drives, or printing.

4. Log and Monitor Use

Logging all access and usage data is important because it enabled providers and business associates to monitor which users are accessing what information, applications, and other resources, as well as specifics of when, and from which devices and locations. These are important logs and prove very valuable for auditing purposes, helping organizations identify areas of concern. They help organizations strengthen protective measures when needed. If an incident takes place, an audit trail can help an organization pinpoint precise entry points, understand the cause and evaluate damages.

5. Restrict Access to Data and Applications

Implementing access controls helps healthcare data protection by restricting access to patient information and certain applications to only those users who require access to perform their jobs. Access restrictions require user authentication, making sure that only the authorized users have access to protected data. Multi-factor authentication is a recommended approach, requiring users to validate that they are the authorized person to access certain data and applications using atleast two validation methods such as

6. Encrypt Data at Rest and In Transit

Encryption is a useful way of protecting data in healthcare organizations. By Encrypting data in transit and at rest, healthcare providers and business associates can make it very challenging for attackers to decipher patient information even if they can gain access to the data itself.

7. Secure Mobile Devices

Increasingly, healthcare providers and covered entities are using mobile devices in course of doing business. Physicians are using a smartphone to access information to help them treat a patient or an administrative worker is processing insurance claims. Mobile device security, therefore, has a multitude of security measures such as
  • Managing all devices, settings, and configurations
  • Enforcing the use of very strong passwords
  • Ability to remotely lock the phone, and wipe data in the event of stolen or misplaced devices
  • Encrypting application data
  • Educating users on mobile device security best practices is a HIPAA secure messaging application for smartphones and desktops that healthcare providers can use within their facilities and implement in their communication and operational processes. offers quick, secure, documented text-based communication to healthcare providers, and the cloud-based technology ensures that you always have access to’s services when you need them the most.
Through healthcare providers can access PHI safely as it requires password-protected authorization as it is one of the best hospital communication apps. To know more about how can help you avoid HIPAA violations, read how it works.

8. Mitigate Connected Device Risks

When you think of mobile devices, you think of smartphones and tablets. There has been a rise in the Internet of Things (IoT) which means that connected devices are taking all types of forms. In the healthcare field, everything from medical devices like blood pressure monitors to the cameras used to monitor physical security in the facility building can be connected to a network. To have connected device security:
Securing Private Health Data

9. Conduct Risk Assessments

Having an audit trail can help identify the cause of other valuable details of an incident after it occurs. Therefore, proactive prevention is very important. Conducting regular risk assessments can help identify vulnerabilities and weak points in a healthcare organization’s security, shortcomings in employee education, and inadequacies in the security position of vendors and business associates. Standard risk assessments are available from many public sources and should be conducted regularly.

10. Back-Up Data

Cyberattacks can also compromise data integrity and availability apart from exposing sensitive patient information. Even a natural disaster can impact a healthcare organization’s data center. If the data is not backed up, the organization can lose it forever. It is important to have frequent offsite data backups.
HIPAA security and privacy requirements cover not just the healthcare organization itself but also any organizations and associates it conducts business with. If a healthcare organization can take care of these 10 components, it can positively be well-guarded against cyberattacks because importance of data security in healthcare cannot be underestimated..
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