In today’s day and age, there is a lot more to consider outside of the examination room when it comes to protecting your patients. Personal Health Information (PHI) is a prime target for hackers which they like to use to carry out all sorts of fraudulent activities that range from identity theft to laundering and more. That’s why as a physician, you now have another area of protection to consider when treating your patients. Thankfully, there are many small business IT services that can help keep your patients’ PHI guarded while keeping you from landing in a data breach or worse. Let’s look at 5 ways that your business can prevent its PHI from getting compromised by hackers.
1: Make Sure Your Staff Is Continually Informed
When your business handles something as sensitive as PHI, it is always a good idea to have a comprehensive security program in place for your staff. That way, they can stay continually informed of what different data breaches on their PHI systems might look like and how to keep them from occurring.
Many managed IT operators recommend covering every area of your business’s security program when organizing these types of meetings with staff as well as looking at different ways data breaches can occur within your business’s security programs. A hacking method that most IT service providers would say is worth mentioning to your staff would be data phishing attacks; especially since this was the number one cause of data breach within a company last year, according to Verizon’s 2020 data breach investigation report.
As you and your staff continue to re-educate yourselves on the data breach methods and your security systems, your PHI will stay safe since you will all have a comprehensive knowledge on how to protect your company’s vital data.
2: Create Strict Access Policies for Reviewing Your Company’s PHI
Access policies help you make sure that your company’s PHI doesn’t get into the wrong hands and potentially open the door for a massive data breach. When you have a clear list of people who you personally know have authorized access to your company’s PHI, you can get a good idea of who to talk to first in the event of a potential data breach. It can help you rule out who is responsible quickly so you can get back to serving your patients sooner.
Strict access policies can also help you judiciously choose who gets to have access to what parts of the PHI. That way, if certain data does end up in the wrong hands, you’ll know where to look first. It’s like going through your list of authorized people with a fine-tooth comb. All these methods help you make the process of finding where your data has specifically been breached much more efficiently.
Here’s an example of how an access policy can work in your company. Say your office has a rule that you can only access PHI to perform certain tasks. Their position or role in the company determines what part of the PHI they are allowed to look at. Your nurse practitioners don’t need to look at a patient’s billing information, but they do need their health conditions and medical history, and vice versa for your office accountants.
By having an access policy that only grants a certain amount of people in your office a certain level of access to the PHI that your company deals with, you can prevent a total data breach from occurring while also being able to watch those who have access to your data to see how they’re using it and in what ways.
3: Consider Implementing a Full Disc Encryption System
Whether you’re working from home, or you are bringing home some notes to fill in and file for the day, a full disc encryption system is an inexpensive and effective way to make sure that PHI stays protected even when it’s out of the office. Full disc encryption systems help to keep private information safe in a company’s computers and portable devices through an elaborate coding process.
What many managed IT service providers love about the full disc encryption system is how your data can’t be deciphered if you don’t have the matching encryption key that gives you access to all the PHI; so even if your whole device is stolen, the PHI can’t be seen since it’s encrypted. This is a great way to ensure that your company’s PHI is still safe even when your staff has to take their stuff home to work on it.
4: Implement Measures of Physical Protection for your PHI
A common practice for lots of companies that deal with PHI is to keep physical records of all their patients’ private information so they don’t even have to worry about being hacked. However, there are still some ways you can keep your physical files protected.
Managed IT operation specialists can help your small business install security cameras and/or a card entry system to keep out any unauthorized personnel from infiltrating your files. Many IT operators will also recommend having a strict log out system for PHI that grants access to authorized staff only and only allows them to keep files for a limited amount of time.
5: Work with an IT Management Operator to Create a Resilient Infrastructure for Your Company
Infrastructure is designed specifically to protect your organization against something called Malware. This is a blanket term for viruses, Trojans, or other harmful programs that cybercriminals use to gain access to sensitive data within a company—like PHI.
Many managed IT solution providers offer infrastructure services to small businesses that can help protect them against malware, such as implementing advanced firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and email filtering software. Additionally, they may also be able to help you install network segregation and segmentation system to help further block a hacker’s attempts to penetrate your security network and steal your data.
Managed IT operators can also offer you solutions to help you protect your security network from any data breaches that may already be inside through employing anti-malware software that will detect and quarantine any areas of a breach within the system, or by designing a backup and recovery program for your company’s data that will avoid any sort of shut down of your business. That way, you can still focus on your top priority— which is caring for your patients.
Elemental Technology Solutions is Here to Help Keep your Office’s PHI Safe.
Technology, much like healthcare, is ever-changing. This is why it’s important that you have a strong network that will help keep you and your team on the pulse of your small business’s new IT solutions available to you. At Elemental Technology Solutions, our HIPAA-compliant IT operations will ensure you will be confident in the decisions you make involving your network. Our staff has a solid background in dental and medical IT solutions as well as prompt and affordable service that will help you keep your business running at its full potential. Find out what we can do for your team today by visiting us online.