Is your healthcare model using multiple devices or complex applications to manage patient information? This can cause many complications and consume much precious time that could otherwise go towards providing the best possible care for people in need. Instead of having to manage all these different types of pieces, your healthcare team can have more control over patient data in an easier way.
In the United States, healthcare organizations are required to abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. This act provides guidelines pertaining to the handling of patient information across a number of platforms. When healthcare organizations are looking for cloud solutions to manage their data, ensuring that they are HIPAA compliant is a necessity.
The Office for Civil Rights in the United States periodically conducts HIPAA compliance audits on healthcare organizations. Most recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) performed audits of 166 covered entities and 41 business associates to check on compliance with selected provisions of the HIPAA Rules. Whether done through ignorance or negligence, HIPAA violations often come with large fines that can range from hundreds of thousands of dollars, to millions, depending on the severity.
In the health sector, priority is always given to saving lives while the security of personal health records (PHR) is sometimes overlooked. This is because, in comparison to emergencies, the storage of information seems very insignificant. As a result, an increasing number of healthcare providers are facing the consequences.
A new report by Black Book Market Research forecasts that data breaches against the healthcare industry are likely to triple in 2021. The survey also found that 75% of the organizations responding felt they were not prepared to act when a cyberattack hits and almost all (96%) felt that cyber criminals were ahead and outpacing their organizations.
HIPAA has become more important now than ever before as more people are relying on telemedicine and other forms of online care. In March 2020, the U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR) division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that it would not apply penalties for "non-compliance with the HIPAA Rules related to the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency." This mandate will continue into 2021 as more people utilize Telehealth services across the nation.
Running a hospital presents a variety of unique challenges. It is like many other businesses as it requires effective leadership and communication to run smoothly, but the extra factor is the importance of timeliness. All businesses require quick employee response, but this could not be truer for a healthcare facility. Patients and their health can be unpredictable. There should be a method of reaching healthcare professionals promptly while still protecting the sensitive information being transmitted.
The number of breaches of unsecured protected health information (PHI) on record in the United States is staggering and continually increasing. Significantly, these records only cover breaches affecting 500 or more individuals. One can only wonder how many more breaches have occurred on a smaller scale. The types of breaches range from theft and hacking, to improper disposal and unauthorized access as a result of negligence. According to the HIPAA Journal, between 2009 and 2019 there were 3,054 healthcare data breaches involving more than 500 records. Those breaches have resulted in the loss, theft, exposure, or impermissible disclosure of 230,954,151 healthcare records. That equates to more than 69.78% of the population of the United States.
Such incidents can be avoided if covered entities (companies involved in healthcare) ensure that all of their business associates are secured. There are many reasons why it is important to have secure business associates. Being aware of these reasons may prompt covered entities to take the necessary measures to protect their clientele's information:
Over the last few years, personal medical devices have been used to monitor and transmit patient health data from home using the internet. Devices part of the so-called "Internet of Medical Things" (IoMT) trend include insulin pumps, heart and glucose monitors, defibrillators, pacemakers, and more.
These particular medical devices are meant to create efficiencies for both patients and healthcare professionals alike. However, according to Help Net Security, "researchers have identified a growing number of software vulnerabilities and demonstrated the feasibility of attacks on these products," leading "to targeted attacks to both individuals and entire product classes."
A recent report from the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office offered some sobering news about the safety of information in the healthcare industry. According to the HHS, there was a staggering increase in large data breaches in 2020. There were 642 healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records in the past year, resulting in a 25% increase from the year prior, according to HIPAA Journal.
Data encryption is available on many of the applications and devices we use daily. In most cases, it is quite easy to toggle "on" as well. It would also seem as if many internet users are beginning to realize the importance of encrypting their data online. A recent article by Chad Skipper of VMware notes "the percentage of encrypted web traffic on the Internet has steadily increased, from around 50% in 2014 to between 80% and 90% today..."
Technology, such as cloud computing, is becoming increasingly attractive in the healthcare management industry. Hospital Chief Information Officers (CIOs), however, now face the difficult task of optimizing new technology while still maintaining the healthcare industry's ethical standards. Here are the top four challenges faced by Hospital CIOs in implementing new technology: