September 9, 2020

IT for medical offices: what’s the best way to protect your patient data?

Follow these tips to keep your medical practice secure and compliant

How we manage our health is changing. Telehealth, virtual consultations, healthcare apps… the list goes on.

The healthcare industry has been becoming more digital for several years, long before our society shifted to an increased reliance on technology in the face of COVID-19. Now more than ever, healthcare providers must pivot to make their services accessible and relevant to emerging patient needs.

However, this shift to digital healthcare poses new privacy concerns surrounding IT for medical offices in protecting patient and medical practice data. The best way to ward off cybercriminals? Increased vigilance and the right technology.

Continue reading to learn the steps your medical office can take to protect patient data in the world of cybermedicine. 

Stay informed about healthcare cyber threats

Medical records are a popular target for cybercriminals—and a breach can be extremely costly for the medical provider. 

In 2020, the average total cost of a data breach is $3.86 million, with healthcare being the most expensive industry at an average total cost of $7.13 million. [1] 

Healthcare data breaches cost medical providers an average of $408 per record—the highest of any industry and nearly 3 times higher than the cross-industry average. [2]

These statistics show how vital it is for medical offices to stay informed about cyber threats facing their industry, so they can protect patient data as effectively as possible. 

How to stay informed: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recently launched the Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center to provide a variety of resources highlighting current medical cyber threats. We’ve linked it in the Resources section below.

Replace outdated healthcare technologies

One of the most common ways medical practices endanger patient data is by neglecting to replace outdated technologies that don’t measure up to current industry standards. 

If you operate with the best systems in place, you can focus on increasing advanced security technologies instead. Some of these technologies include micro-segmentation, software-defined perimeter tools, and security operations and analytics platform architecture.

It’s also vital to develop and maintain a secure infrastructure to support your daily operations. We recommend working with an IT partner who has a complete understanding of IT for medical offices such as network security, data storage options, plus the physical, administrative, and technical safeguards required for HIPAA compliance.

Enable endpoint protection and breach detection 

Each year, endpoint attacks cost the healthcare industry $1.3 billion. [3] They work by targeting user systems such as smartphones and laptops rather than servers as entry points to the network. 

What many medical offices don’t realize is that antivirus software alone is inadequate in preventing endpoint attacks. We recommend proactively preventing these attacks by implementing advanced threat protection and breach detection—both of which can be provided by an IT company who specializes in IT for medical offices.

Utilize HIPAA-compliant software

All healthcare providers understand the importance of HIPAA compliance in keeping patient data secure, but many haven’t made the transition from manual to virtual data collection. 

With news of security breaches continually flooding the media, medical offices may be skeptical of transitioning to cloud based data storage. However, data collected by software and stored in the cloud is completely safe and secure, especially when all aspects of the technology are HIPAA-compliant. 

HIPAA-compliant cloud software can also help you:

  • Streamline the patient information collection process,
  • Access patient information quicker and easier,
  • Automate data management and work tracking processes, and
  • Ensure you’re using top of the line technology to expertly protect patient data.  

Learn more here:

What is cloud computing?

Conduct a HIPAA compliance audit 

With patients to treat and employees to manage, it’s often easy for medical offices to neglect the IT-related aspects of their business.

In an industry where HIPAA compliance is mandatory (and the penalties can be sizable), we recommend hiring a specialized provider who understands IT for medical offices to conduct an audit. This will ensure your organization and staff are following HIPAA guidelines and other ever-changing privacy laws.

It’s worth the investment. Why? The cost of a HIPAA audit will always pale in comparison to the fines that are placed on medical practices who find themselves suddenly audited and not compliant. 

Need help with your IT?

Our comprehensive managed IT services specifically tailored for medical practices and physicians’ offices offer an extensive list of services—giving you everything you need to meet HIPAA compliance, protect patient data, and support your team.


“I have known and used InterNetwork IT for over 3 years. Adam and his team are very professional and go the extra mile to help. Their services are reliable and reasonably priced. I would not hesitate to recommend.”

Leroy Harrison, Practice Manager, A Plus Pediatrics and South Lake Pediatrics

Visit our Medical IT Package page to learn more or contact us today to get started!

Resources:

Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center

Sources:

1: IBM 

2: Healthcare Innovation

3: Health IT Security 

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