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Wednesday, February 7, 2018 1:00 PM

How to Meet Stricter Patient Privacy Policies with Fewer Resources

Written by Tim Burris, HCISPP, Product Manager, Privacy and Security - iatricSystems

Healthcare organizations are finding themselves having to do more with fewer resources, and this resource limitation is most visible in data security and patient privacy. Additionally, the industry as a whole sees more and more data breaches in healthcare facilities of all shapes and sizes. This is putting even further stress on hospitals to protect data from the inside out, as the penalties related to breaches, financial and otherwise, can be severe. 

One of the significant areas of concern is the threat of staff and others, including third-party vendors and contractors, inside the hospital inappropriately accessing or misusing patient data. Why is this such an issue? Because in addition to educating and monitoring staff about unauthorized access and use of patient information, healthcare organizations are now also responsible for third parties and how they use data. This additional burden requires each third-party to complete a risk assessment, adding more work to a facility’s IT staff. Additionally, provider organizations must plug any security holes or leaks caused by these third parties.

Some facilities rely on random audits and informational risk assessments to determine data access, but that's just not enough. With all of this, how can hospitals meet ever-increasing regulations in an efficient and effective manner where patient data is secure?

Many hospitals are turning to healthcare technology for help.

Technology, particularly advanced auditing and monitoring tools, plays a significant role in enabling healthcare organizations to see every time patient records are accessed across the enterprise to help find any inappropriate activity. Further, when these tools include privacy analytics, technology and privacy leaders are better equipped to efficiently evaluate the access to patient data to find when access is inappropriate. Monitoring for access can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, but analytics plays a crucial role in making that haystack significantly smaller.

This specialized technology can also help ensure any and all risks and leaks caused by third parties are plugged, further securing data.

By being able to see better when patient data access is inappropriate, leaders are also able to detect security breaches, and in many cases, go a long way in preventing these breaches.

But, technology can’t work alone. Privacy leaders should use it in conjunction with employee and vendor education to develop a culture of privacy where patient privacy is respected across the enterprise from the top down.

You can read more about how privacy and security can be made more straightforward for healthcare organizations in a recent article I wrote for Health Management Technology.

What issues, questions or concerns do you have with patient privacy issues? How is your facility meeting the challenges at hand? Let us know by posting a comment below – we look forward to hearing from you!