Given the growing number of data security threats facing healthcare organizations, combined with increased scrutiny from regulators, it is important medical organizations are prepared to deal with data breaches before they occur.
In an attempt to ensure healthcare organizations are prepared to meet the demands of data protection, data security firm ID Experts recently released several guiding steps to help companies mitigate threats while also adhering to various regulations.
The report outlines a need for greater pre-breach measures among healthcare providers. While a data breach incident can result in costly damages, failing to comply with such regulations as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act can also be an expensive mistake even in the absence of a breach.
Risk assessment is the first step ID Experts recommended healthcare organizations take. This entails identifying where private health information is stored and what measures need to be made to ensure its protection. While no solution can guarantee security, many exist that can help an organization assess and minimize potential threats.
Following that, healthcare organizations are advised to provide employee training and develop policies pertaining to data security. This is a crucial part of complying with HIPAA and the HITECH Act, as many data breaches come from within the organizations – whether accidental or otherwise.
"Today healthcare organizations face enormous privacy and data breach risks. Managing these risks and compliance has been further complicated by the new HITECH regulations, often requiring organizations to seek outside help to assess risk and manage requirements," Gartner research director Ian Glazer said in an ID Experts press release.
As a recent Ponemon Institute study found, cyber security breaches are nearly inevitable, as 90 percent of surveyed IT professionals indicated their company suffered some sort of data protection failure in the past 12 months. However, taking proactive steps to mitigate the effects of breaches can make a significant difference in the eyes of regulators.