Data breaches have rapidly increased in recent years, especially in the healthcare industry. Millions of patient records have been compromised due to cyberattacks, insider threats, and other violations. When private health information is leaked, it can significantly impact patients’ right to privacy and the integrity of the healthcare industry. By learning about data breaches and how to protect private health information from data breaches, you can be better prepared if a breach occurs.
A healthcare data breach is when protected health information, commonly called PHI, is compromised. PHI can include information about your medical history and treatment records, but it also contains personal data like your name, birth date, and social security number. PHI is taken very seriously in the healthcare industry, and policies have been created to better protect patients’ privacy rights. This includes the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which was designed to regulate PHI use by healthcare providers and organizations. Unfortunately, data breaches can still occur despite the industry’s best efforts to protect PHI.
Three types of breaches that most commonly occur are cyber-attacks, insider threats, and physical theft.
- Cyber-attacks – These attacks can be in the form of malware, phishing, or ransomware, all used to gain access to healthcare systems and steal patient data.
- Insider Threats – These attacks occur when someone with access to patient records intentionally or unintentionally discloses PHI.
- Physical Theft – These attacks occur when physical records or electronic devices containing PHI are stolen.
Data breaches affecting a patient’s PHI can significantly impact almost every aspect of a patient’s life. These data breaches often lead to identity theft and medical fraud, but it also robs patients of their piece of mind. So how can healthcare organizations guard against data breaches? Here are a few tips to consider:
- Cyber-attack Protection – By implementing cyber security measures such as firewalls, encryption, and multi-factor authentication, healthcare organizations can protect themselves against cyberattacks.
- Enhanced Training – By training employees on the importance of health data and handling PHI appropriately, healthcare organizations can ensure their employees are adequately prepared to protect patient information.
- Regular Assessments – By conducting regular and extensive risk assessments, health organizations can identify potential vulnerabilities and develop a plan to mitigate those risks.
With data breaches on the rise across the country, it is good practice to take active steps to help prevent such events from occurring. To protect patient privacy, healthcare organizations must implement strong security measures to ensure their patients data is protected against data breaches. Contact Jolley Law Group for guidance on protecting your data.