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Subpar Data Security Continues in Healthcare Industry

Healthcare Data 

Subpar Data Security Continues in Healthcare Industry

2015 has a notorious characterization as a terrible year for data breaches in the healthcare industry. Unfortunately, even though 2016 is well underway, companies haven't made the substantial preventative measures needed to prevent the same thing from happening again. That's the conclusion reached by the Ponemon Institute after compiling data from its sixth annual survey.

Let's take a look at some of the glaring problems related to data security in healthcare, and explore why they're still so prevalent.

Half of Data Breaches Are Caused by Mistakes

The above mentioned survey revealed mistakes are to blame in half of all healthcare data breaches. Specifically, breaches were related to blunders made by third-party companies, unintentional errors made by hospital employees and failures to keep computers properly secured against theft. Analysts suggest user mistakes could be reduced if data security were prioritized across entire organizations, though not just by enforcing rigid rules.

For example, Dow Chemical conducts targeted training for employees to explain data security measures that are in place at the company, and to explain why it's so important to comply with them. Because the organization goes deep by discussing the reasoning for such measures, and even allows employees to give input while policies are being created, the company outlines desired behaviors that employees want to follow. Many employees assume preventing security breaches is the responsibility of the IT department, but employees play important roles in protecting data too.

Healthcare Workers Are Swamped With Paperwork

Many healthcare professionals grumble they have to fill out so much paperwork, they can't spend enough time on patient care. In the mental health industry in particular, the time spent on paperwork is rising. In addition to frustrating healthcare workers, excessive paperwork requirements may make patients less likely to return regularly for treatments.

However, data analytics in healthcare sectors could ease the burden. For example, clinical and behavioral health software allows healthcare workers to enter assessment data, manage treatment plans and examine statistics over time to determine whether or not progress is being made.

When healthcare workers have these kinds of tools to make it easier for them to complete paperwork, they should have more time in their schedule to devote to patient care. Furthermore, the more streamlined the paperwork process is, the less likely physicians are to make errors due to hurriedness or fatigue. In turn, if patients benefit by not having to fill out so many forms, they may be more likely to return for regular visits.

Mobile Device Usage Is On the Rise During Patient Care

The Mobile Threat Intelligence Report released by Skycure, a threat defense specialist, mentioned that 80 percent of doctors use mobile devices during daily practice, and 28 percent store patient data on them. Because mobile devices are being used more frequently, they're becoming hot items for thieves and hackers. Data released by Skycure also revealed the devices doctors use often don't have password protection, and sometimes they run outdated operating systems. Both of those problems put patient data at risk.

Because mobile devices arguably make patient care easier, the solution to cutting down on data breaches on handheld tech isn't to eliminate them altogether. However, healthcare facilities could enforce responsible usage by requiring physicians to only use devices that are provided by their workplace, or have been set up by a medical facility's IT team.

Medical Data Appeals to Hackers

The Ponemon survey also found almost 90 percent of healthcare organizations suffered data breaches. Medical records were most commonly compromised, but payment details were also at risk. That's probably because healthcare information is rich with data hackers could use to create big problems for the specific individuals who've had their details snatched, not to mention the organization that provided treatment.

Some experts warn tapping into medical data is even more valuable to hackers than credit card information. While affected people can usually stop hackers by cancelling their credit cards, halting medical records tampering is not so straightforward.

Hopefully this information sheds some light on why plenty of progress has still to be made in preventing healthcare data breaches. Achieving worthwhile gains is not impossible, but doing so requires cooperation and understanding between multiple parties.


About the Author

Kayla Matthews is a tech-loving blogger who writes and edits Follow her on Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

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Published Friday, June 10, 2016 9:41 AM by David Marshall
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