How to Secure Electronic Health Records?

The electronic healthcare record systems and databases have facilitated the entire healthcare industry to develop, advance, and revolutionize patient care and information collection. Although at one side it is an excellent effort, on the other hand, it has made system weak and easily accessible to hackers.

If a hacker gets access to EHR or if EHR is present in the black market then the possibility of identity theft increases by heaps and bound. Some researchers suggest that the records can be of worth up to $1000 in the black market.

With the continuous small and massive data attacks, the healthcare security should be under great observation and surveillance than ever before. Their aim is to make information safe, secure and to decrease data breaches.

Tips to Secure Electronic Health Records:

If you are concern about the safety and protection of your patient’s health records and looking for ways to secure the EHR, then your wait is over. In this article, we are providing you with eight tips which will help you in securing the EHR. The tips are as follows:

  1. Perform Risk Assessment on a Regular Basis:

The cyber-security world is progressing by each passing day in the healthcare sector. To cope up the advancements which attackers are making and to make sure that the IT environment also maintains the same level of security, it is necessary to perform a risk assessment on a regular basis.

It is essential to know what the risks are and threats to your system and EHR. Moreover, assess the areas where there is a vulnerability, recognize and organize the data based on risk and take the required necessary actions to reduce the possible threats.

Performing risk assessment monthly or annually is not enough. On regular basis, the risk assessment shall be carried out.

  1. Audit Trails:

The audit trails provide documentation to keep the tracks of every action which involves the patient’s information. It is done by automatically registering and recording who is accessing the system, what’s the location is, time of locating, and what they do after accessing.

The EHR systems allow the user to do regular reviews and mark flag any suspicious activity which can lead to HIPAA violations when information is being logged. The reviews can avoid mistakes due to human error.

There are many EHR systems which have auditing capabilities. When medical staff access information, the patient’s portals is set to send notification emails to every patient.

In a nutshell, earlier you become aware of a problem quicker you solve it. Thus, audit trails will surely help to address the issue on time.

  1. Data Encryption:

By encrypting your data in a way which can only get detected by any authorized programs or users which are in possession of the access code. The EHRs can make the transfer of patient’s data much safer such as test results or diagnoses to the patient by patient portals and medical histories to referrals.

Furthermore, coding of information can reduce the damage if your data gets stolen. It also permits securing information within the office. It happens when it gets paired with role-based access control. Thus, only staff members having clearance can see the decrypted data.

  1. Strategic Plan to Prevent and Survive Data Violation:

The healthcare organizations give more priority to keep running the essential departments of the organization in case of an incident like a power outage. However, it is also necessary and top-priority to outline a detailed plan to promote data security.

It should include allocating staff to look after the regular security tests and implement the data architecture model. Introduce a strategic plan to prevent and survive data violations. It must include steps which should be executed to surmount any security shortfalls. Also, make all desirable adjustments to the data architecture model.

  1. Update Software and Available Patches:

The upgrades and patches involve necessary security-related features which prevent current data breaches.

You can appoint anyone who has the practice to monitor all these upgrades. But make sure that they get installed on a current basis.

If you use subscription-based SaaS software than check with the vendor to look either the security updates get automatically installed or needs to update the program periodically.

  1. Remove Unnecessary and Unwanted Data:

It is not necessary that all organizational data overextend. Some data also comes from slow and lazy processes and poor data regulation. For example, forms and screens use the patient name, DOB, and social security number as identifications to reduce confusion.

Although it is a worthy goal for paper, however, for electronic records having such information in several databases means that each provides the key to attackers.

By keeping all kind of sensitive data at one place and using an internally unique identifier to link the database is a safe and secure practice to reduce the possibility of attack harms.

Data should get reviewed before removing it permanently. Carry out this activity on a regular basis. Some data should stay for a long time while one should delete other data after a short period.

To know the data category requires coordination among all the units of an organization. However, that coordination will be more successful when the internal database becomes less appealing to the attackers.

  1. Use your Logs:

It is among the biggest impossibilities in security. There are several devices and procedures which generate log files which security analysts can search by hiding in log data. However, many professionals will cry on the fact that so much valued log data remain unused in day-to-day management, protection of network, and application environment.

The raw files can become large during short order. For this reason, log file management and automatic analysis system are very vital. It can help take the flood data and can turn it to a useful stream too.

The log management functionality built into networks and system management frameworks. It is difficult to set up and manage. It makes this the primary function.

Particularly, when the organization is not of a large scale and has less experienced security analysts, a managed cloud security solution can provide the initial analysis needed to make use of all the log data available.

  1. Clean Up User Devices:

There are many medical practices in which experts use their smartphones and tablets. In these cases, methods require experts to handle the practice-issued devices for their required work. However, they are being often forced to allow the use of personal devices in other cases.

In both conditions, the organization uses a mixture of procedures, laws, and technology. This is to eradicate and carefully control the sensitive patient information within these mobile devices.

In an ideal world, no patient’s data will be present on personal mobile devices. The virtual desktop machines might allow this, though there are many significant back-end costs to utilize this option. In this way, when it is difficult to use this option, it becomes a choice for protecting data.

The mobile device management is progressing rapidly. It now includes choices for coding information, isolating the professional from personal information. Also, erases the professional information in case of device loss or stolen. Although, it doesn’t make any difference how small the practice is, the MDM will not be an option if the experts use it in their work. It should look like a part of the device price when allocating budget for mobile access.

Final Thoughts:

With increasing rates of cybercrimes, the patients EHRs are at high risk. It is, therefore, very crucial to secure them. By following the tips mentioned above, you can surely secure the EHRs.


Leave a Comment