The conditions in which health information may be used is established by the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The rule’s intention is to insure that patient information and data is only seen by those who actually need to see it. But these days, where information may be stored in many different places and on many different systems, adhering to these rules has become more and more challenging. IT system security breaches are becoming common place and in the end the responsibility lies with the covered entity or health care provider.
Part of the issue, according to health care IT security companies, is the perception of many health care organizations. A lot of smaller hospitals and practices think that since they don’t collect credit card numbers, they don’t need to invest in security for their IT systems. What they don’t realize is that personal data, particularly medical data, is a valuable commodity to hackers and that information can be sold or given to unscrupulous entities.
Another issue is the recent onset of newer technologies. The widespread integration of EHR systems in the health care industry is streamlining and making patient information more readily available to doctors and health institutions, but it’s also become a popular target for hackers.
Additionally, many vendors are developing apps to work with providers IT and EHR systems, but don’t take HIPPA concerns into consideration when developing the apps allowing hackers to easily subvert security and steal data.
Providers and vendors aren’t always at fault, however. When Windows recently ended it’s support for Windows XP, it created a security risk for any practice that accesses electronic Protected Health Information via that product. While these practices weren’t at fault for the risk created, it is their responsibility to upgrade their systems.
When security breaches occur, the cost is usually a lot more than just stolen information. Once they are discovered, laws require providers to notify anyone who may have been affected by the breach which, in turn, undermines patients trust in the health organization or vendor. If the lost information ends up being used maliciously, the provider is almost certain to be staring down the barrel of a lawsuit.
In the end health care security needs to be taken very seriously, regardless of the size or function of the organization. When working with outside vendors, providers need to vigilantly research and confirm the security of any IT system they will be using.
BC Solutions specializes in full-scale, clinical laboratory software system installation and management solutions. We offer a complete range of services for our clients because installed compliant systems are more than just testing and validation.