As the healthcare industry continues to digitize, concerns around data security and HIPAA compliance are growing. Think about it: patients and providers are interacting via text, online chat, and video visits now more than ever, making personal health data seemingly more vulnerable to exposure via security breaches.
In fact, cyberattackers are increasingly interested in healthcare organizations, initiating phishing attacks to access health records (which can garner $1,000 a piece on the black market), introducing ransomware to earn high dollar payouts, and spying on pharmaceutical and biotech IP.
At the same time, your patients entrust you with some of their most personal information (like Social Security Numbers and confidential health records). They also value convenience and want to continue communicating with you digitally, so finding a solution that is both secure and convenient is key.
To help you increase data security, remain HIPAA compliant, and deliver a stellar patient experience in the process, we put together the following cybersecurity guide. It covers what to look out for, how to protect your practice, and more.
The first step to protecting your data security is to understand what a cyber attack actually looks like. In most cases, it’s a phishing email that includes dubious links or attachments containing malware, ransomware, or similar threat. If you click on a link or open an attachment, you risk compromising your organization’s data security.
According to HIPAA Journal, phishing emails are used in 91% of cyberattacks. These are 100% preventable, so long as you can spot a phishing email and not fall for their bogus links or attachments. Fortunately, they have similar characteristics—and, once you know what to look for, they’re relatively easy to identify and avoid. For example:
*Pro Tip: Note that cyber attackers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, so their phishing attempts might be more difficult to spot. If you’re ever suspicious of an email from a trusted company or person, our recommendation is to call that company or person directly to see if the email is legitimate. If it’s not, then report it to the FTC.
The last thing you want to deal with is a security breach that ultimately exposes your patient’s protected health information. In addition to reporting phishing emails (and not falling for their click-bait), you should also have protocols in place to remain HIPAA compliant.
By definition, the HIPAA Security Rule “requires covered entities to maintain reasonable and appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards for protecting electronic protected health information (ePHI).” In general, this means not disclosing or making available ePHI to unauthorized persons. For a full breakdown of your HIPAA obligations under the Privacy Rule and Security Rule, click here.
There are a number of ways to maximize your practice’s cyber security. Here are four of them:
A huge component of your security protocol should be around patient communication. These days, patients are more interested in digital interactions with their medical providers, preferring texts to phone calls or online portals, and video visits whenever possible. With a solution like Klara, you get the best of both worlds: secure messaging that’s also convenient for your patients.
We take security very seriously at Klara and strive to ensure your patient interactions are safe, HIPAA-compliant, and offer a delightful patient experience. This means no app downloads or cumbersome patient portals. Instead, patients enjoy a seamless and secure text conversation with you and your staff. For example:
At the end of the day, being proactive about your cybersecurity is the best way to prevent data breaches or other cyber attacks. To get started, create a security plan and provide your staff with proper (and ongoing) training. Just don’t forget about the patient experience in the process.