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Guide to Secure Collaboration in Healthcare

secure collaboration in healthcare

Virtual healthcare collaboration such as Telehealth is becoming an increasingly prominent feature of the healthcare industry. As this virtual healthcare is becoming more widely adopted by healthcare providers, having a healthcare cybersecurity strategy will protect collaboration in healthcare. Whether you are a healthcare provider offering virtual services or a healthcare IT professional, we suggest that you consider the points we highlight below — they can serve as your guide to secure collaboration in healthcare.  We recommend you use this paper as a tool to evaluate your healthcare IT strategy and how it protects both you and your patients.

Important Healthcare Cybersecurity Considerations

Considering healthcare data breaches increased 55% from 2019, we wanted to point out some important concepts that highlight why a strong cybersecurity strategy is important in healthcare. As an industry, healthcare providers have specialized information and communication needs. Keeping these areas secure ensure healthcare providers have reliable access to information, maintain legal compliance, and generate a high level of patient satisfaction.

The Healthcare Industry Is Highly Subject to Ransomware Attacks

Healthcare is one of the most high-risk industries for ransomware attacks. These attacks open healthcare providers up to data breaches. With several vulnerable endpoints, healthcare facilities can also lose thousands of dollars per minute during downtime. This is why we recommend that doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities implement managed IT services.

In addition to providing patient care, healthcare organizations have to balance compliance across several entities. Healthcare providers need to constantly maintain regulatory compliance for both HIPAA and PCI DSS. Compliance is a critical aspect that relates to keeping data and healthcare information secure. Therefore, we recommend that you keep in mind that a partner may help manage your health IT and systems. The right partner can help you balance out compliance challenges and avoid future issues. The wrong partner will leave you exposed.

Healthcare Cybersecurity Safeguards the Reputation of an Organization

Cybersecurity issues can negatively impact a healthcare organization’s reputation. When data breaches, compliance violations, or ransomware attacks become public, consumers lose faith in their healthcare provider. This is why we recommend modern technology solutions that help healthcare providers detect, protect, or quickly overcome cybersecurity issues. Also, patients will remain focused on their care as they remain satisfied that their medical information is securely protected.

Secure Communications Highlight HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA compliance is one of the most integral security goals for healthcare organizations. We understand the need for healthcare providers to meet their legal obligations that pertain to user access management, data encryption, and data security.

Secure healthcare communication protects healthcare providers from HIPAA violations, which can result in costly penalties. Two of the most common HIPAA violations that yield financial penalties include delayed breach notifications and the failure to safeguard protected healthcare information (PHI). Because these violations directly correlate to healthcare cybersecurity, we will look into them in more detail.

Relationship Between Data Breaches and HIPAA

Healthcare organizations are frequently targeted by cybercriminals. If the data breaches are successful, they may be subject to investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR investigates to determine if the data breach was a result of violations of HIPAA rules. If HIPAA violations are discovered, the organization may incur a financial penalty. Also, the OCR can find additional unrelated HIPAA violations during their investigation — these findings can lead to additional financial penalties.

Another consideration is that the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule requires covered entities to issue notifications of breaches no later than 60 days following the discovery of a data breach. Unfortunately, reports have found that months can lapse before a healthcare organization uncovers and recovers from a breach. On average, healthcare organizations take 96 days to discover a data breach and 236 days to recover from one. If a healthcare provider exceeds the 60-day time frame, they could be subject to penalty. When Presence Health delayed issuing breach notifications by a month after the 60 days, they were penalized $475,000.

Protecting PHI in Virtual Healthcare Environments

When it comes to PHI, doctor’s offices offering virtual healthcare services have additional areas (ePHI) for which they must execute secure collaboration. These securities are critical in protecting healthcare providers against HIPAA violations. HIPAA requires that access to ePHi is limited to authorized individuals. Failure to adequately control ePHI access resulted in financial loss for a large state university health system when they were fined $865,000 for failing to restrict access to medical records.

Encryption is also an important healthcare IT strategy to avoid data breaches. Having ePHI on portable devices creates an added layer that IT teams need to protect. Although it is not mandatory under HIPAA rules, it can help secure PHI. If healthcare organizations fail to protect ePHI, they are subject to financial settlements for their violations. When the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas failed to take action to address known risks that included the failure to use encryption on portable devices, they were subject to a $3.2 million civil monetary penalty.

With all of these cybersecurity considerations for healthcare organizations, secure collaboration in healthcare is more important than ever. We hope that this guide is your viable resource for virtual healthcare..