6 Data Protection Tips for Healthcare Companies

Earlier this year, the private healthcare information of over 91,000 Medicaid clients in the United States were compromised. An investigation traced a data breach involving two government employees who turned out to be siblings.
According to reports, the two exchanged emails that contained the private healthcare data of the clients. The woman was a medical assistance specialist at the Health Care Authority (HCA) while her brother was an internet technician at the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
While the HCA risk manager said that the spreadsheets containing patient information had not been forwarded to unauthorized personnel or third parties, and even though the data had not been used in any “improper way,” there had been a huge data breach and the two employees have been fired.

According to Ponemon Institute’s Fifth Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy & Security of Healthcare Data, the healthcare sector accounted for approximately 44% of all data breaches that happened in 2013. About 65% of healthcare companies reported cybersecurity incidents during the same year.

In this article, we will discuss tips how healthcare companies and organizations can avoid data breaches and address other cyber security challenges.

Tips to Avoid Data Breaches in the Healthcare Sector 

Provide proper personnel training.
In the healthcare setting, many people require access to patients’ medical doctors. A data breach can occur due to improper or insufficient personnel training, therefore, it is important that all the staff is given ample coaching to ensure that they are well adept with the company’s regulations.
Limit mobile device usage.
To prevent data breach through mobile devices, healthcare companies should ensure that the devices—from servers to laptops—are capable of data encryption and remote data deletion in the case of loss.
Have a risk management in place.
In developing tactics and policies to prevent cyber security issues, healthcare companies must understand the consequences of data breach and losses to their organization and clients. This way, they can better assess the risks and create a risk management system in place. The faster technology evolves, the more risks they bring. It is vital that organizations understand that data breach can come from both outside and inside their companies.
Develop a tailor-fit strategy.
The extent and sophistication of your cyber security strategy depend on the type of data you have and the length of your operations. Who has access to the information, how are they being accessed, and what are the risks involved? These can help you create a tailor-fit strategy to prevent data breach incidents.
Have a cybersecurity response team.
Cyber security threats are part of daily operations. It can happen anytime and anywhere, whether in your company headquarters or satellite offices. Therefore, you should have a well-trained and on-call cybersecurity response team in place, as well as policies for your non-technical employees, so they know what to do in the critical minutes following the data breach incident.
Have a business continuity plan.
Machines malfunction and people make mistakes. This is why apart from having a cybersecurity team in place, you should have a business continuity plan to prevent a data breach incident from affecting operations, especially in large-scale healthcare organizations where each second matters.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure, Even in Cybersecurity

It is not enough that your employees are well-trained. Always prepare for the worst case scenario so that when an unfortunate cyber incident occurs, the organization will not be left in the dark.

Adel Zsurzsan

Adel Zsurzsan started as a Service Desk Analyst at transcosmos Information System. Currently based in transcosmos Hungary office, she now serves as the company's Business Development Advisor, helping the company grow and explore partnerships and opportunities. She speaks fluent English, Dutch, Romanian, Hungarian, German, French and Spanish.