Confidentiality is a basic right for every patient who seeks to get himself/herself treated in a hospital. Critical information about patients is present with the healthcare providers at all times. So, there must be a way to safeguard these pieces of information. Malware, phishing, ransomware are just some of the cyber attacks which can damage critical information about patients and their health issues.
Hospitals, and even private practitioners, must have some mechanisms in place to protect their patient’s privacy. They must be able to run a clean practice that does not misuse their patient’s data at any cost. Here are some steps that hospitals and private practitioners can take to ensure confidentiality for their patients.
Encrypting data that patients share
Healthcare services have started depending on technology more and more. During the Covid-19 pandemic, consultation for other diseases was done using online mediums like video calls. In this case, keeping all patient data online was the only way out.
Phones, laptops and tablets became an essential part of providing and availing healthcare services. This made healthcare services more vulnerable to cyber attacks. The only way to prevent this is by keeping all the information in encrypted form on the devices. If patient files are encrypted, then they cannot be viewed by unauthorized users.
Training employees to ensure technological safety
Healthcare professionals must be adequately trained in healthy technological practices which ensure cyber safety of the patients and also healthcare service providers. Employees must be able to detect fraudulent emails and messages which is the medium for most cyber attacks. All healthcare professionals and people engaged with providing medical services must be trained to not give out passwords of those devices which store patient data. They must be made familiar with multi-factor authentication to access files containing confidential patient data. When they have to add signature in Word from patients, then they must be careful to use secure gateways and take every step to ensure that security is not compromised in any way.
Using the latest technology
When setting up the technological side of a healthcare service provider, care must be taken to ensure that all the latest technological advancements are incorporated into the system. Using the latest softwares is always the safest because the latest inventions always amp up security and have the best security features installed. Firewalls, antivirus protection software make it safer and more secure for healthcare service providers to store patient data. There were massive developments made with cyber security in the past one year during the Covid-19 pandemic when most things had to be done virtually. Even signatures and approvals had to be done virtually. So, digital signatures became the way forward.
Getting approval from patients during online consultations became easier with digital signatures. But a way to secure those was also required. This is where HIPAA compliant digital signatures came into the picture. If you use softwares that lets you use HIPAA compliant digital signatures, then you can get approvals and permissions from your patients during online consultations. Opting for digital signatures also allows you to keep contact between doctors and patients minimal which is a good safety measure to take even now. This allows billing and documentation to take place with as little contact as possible. Because they are so easy to use and secure, HIPAA compliant signatures have remained in use even after the pandemic because of this reason. They are definitely more secure than just to add signature in Word. So, they are here to stay even if contact between people can go back to normal standards like they were before the pandemic.
Choosing softwares and software vendors carefully
As a healthcare service provider in 2021, an online presence is a must. To have that, most healthcare service providers have to use a variety of softwares. Now, a large part of the security of the business depends on the quality of these softwares and whether they are secure or not. So, it is very important to buy softwares only from credible sources and vendors. This way your security is not compromised and you can focus on providing the best healthcare services to the people around you. Patients will also feel secure with their data if the technology and the softwares you are using are secured with the latest softwares. This is why a huge number of healthcare professionals and service providers have opted to go for the best softwares available in the market.
Limiting your data footprint
When information is stored in one system, unknown to the author, many copies may get stored in units which are not in control of the people who created the original. This can lead to very dangerous violations of the right to privacy especially if sensitive data like healthcare information is in question. Any document that is not signed with a HIPAA compliant digital signature runs the risk of leaving behind copies which are not out of the control of the owner. Data footprint has to be limited at any cost especially when you are dealing with sensitive information about various patients.
The importance of a technologically safe and secure working model is very essential in a healthcare business and the healthcare service providers must do everything in their power to ensure that their patient’s privacy is not compromised at any cost. Ignoring the risk of cyber attacks can come in the way of providing good quality healthcare services as patients might be scared to put your trust in them for fear of their privacy being breached and their health data leaking to various third party sources who might misuse them for their gains. As important as it is for hospitals and healthcare services to provide good quality service, it is also important for them to ensure that the privacy and security of their patients is not breached at any cost. By doing so, the service provider and the patient will both worry less and heal more.