Healthcare is no longer just about curing ailing patients. Medicine requires securing your patient’s Protected Health Information (PHI).
Even though HIPAA has been around since 1996, last year the industry averaged a breach a day, affecting 27,314,647 patient records. (Protenus) Even with millions of dollars paid in fines (in February, a Miami, Florida non-profit paid $5.5 million to settle a HIPAA case and a Dallas-area hospital paid a $3.2 million HIPAA penalty according to MSPmentor report), most medical practices don’t know what to do when it comes to securing their PHI and we regularly see these 3 cybersecurity mistakes at medical practices.
3 Biggest Cybersecurity Mistakes Medical Practices Make
- Unsecure Mobile Devices – Many medical practices utilize tablets when seeing patients because it is easier and more economical than adding computers to each patient room. Even with traditional workstations, like towers and laptops, most doctors and staff access patient data via their smartphone – these phones need to require a passcode to access.
Without a passcode, whenever the phone is not in the doctor’s possession, like leaving it in a taxi, at the restaurant, or elsewhere, that can be considered a data breach. Also, medical practices should not use a universal username and password for each device and internet login.
- Not Protecting Physical Assets - You can further protect your data and minimize the risk of a breach by encrypting the hard drives on all devices, including tower workstations because hackers have stolen physical computers. This instance happened in March at LSU Research.
Besides encrypting hard drives, best practices include securing your server in a locked room and shredding your hard drives when you decommission them.
- Unsecure Communications With Patients – HIPAA requires secure communications when sending PHI outside of your network, whether it be to a consulting physician, hospital, or to the patients themselves. This communication includes email, text, and messaging.
One of the biggest reasons why medical practices make so many correctable cybersecurity mistakes is that no one on staff understands cybersecurity and they use a jack-of-all-trades “IT guy” that is always reactive and doesn’t keep up with industry changes, forcing his clients to not be HIPAA compliant. A good IT firm will help you to secure your network and be HIPAA compliant, which starts with signing a Business Associate Agreement with your IT firm.