The expanse of information technology has crossed traditional limits, and the health sector is making the most of it. Health IT is trending all over the world since these systems are vouching for enhanced patient data acquisition. The comprehensive patient information through Electronic Health Record System allows better chances at diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
However, some malicious elements in the domain of information technology pose substantial threats to medical information integrated into such systems. Protected health information or PHI includes test and laboratory findings, demographic data, insurance information and medical history of the individual. PHI assists physicians for the amiable apprehension of patient details thus facilitating effective healthcare.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act encompasses a security rule which sets the necessary standards for safeguarding an individual’s PHI. HIPAA security and privacy rules are governed by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
As per an HHS report regarding breaches since 2009 revealed that around ten million patients were affected due to 252 breach incidents. Such observations have led to serious contemplation and the most common breach traps were reported as:
- Loss of electronic media which stores PHI data.
- Unsupervised access to PHI.
- Human errors.
- Incidents of information theft.
- Disclosing PHI to external sources.
- Negligence in the data disposal processes.
Among the various incidents of PHI, breaches reported to date, the largest one involved theft of 57 computer hard drives which was the resultant of improper implementation of physical security systems. The hard drives were not encrypted and contained crucial PHI such as diagnosis codes, member names, health plan identification numbers and dates of birth of around more than one million individuals. The concerned facility had to compensate for such a blunder by remitting $1.5 million for HIPAA security and privacy provisions violation.
Security issues in Health IT sector deserve immediate consideration of concerned authorities. The risks associated with security breaches not only affect the patient’s private information but also put the medical organization’s reputation and financial status in jeopardy. Thus, healthcare administrators have two choices. Either they can improvise the internal staffing for cutting off the risk of breaches or hire a competent IT vendor to formulate security framework for their PHI infrastructure.
Some Of The Remedies Of HIPAA Breach Traps Are:
- Find your flaws: A decisive risk assessment of your PHI framework can find the loopholes in the system. The conventional intention of implementing top notch security technologies cannot be enough to tackle breach incidents. Discussions on risk transfer and estimation of accessibility preferences are viable steps for countering breaches.
- Formulate a strategy which is affable for all employees in the organization. Hire an external IT vendor to devise formidable security systems.
- Frequent training sessions for employees is inevitable. Each and every individual who can access PHI shall be informed of the gravity of PHI breaches and the vitality of patient data.
- Implement the formulated policies and established technologies.
- Keep a close look on the individuals permitted to access PHI.
- In the end, always keep a backup plan ready in case of a PHI breach.