Four Steps to Protect your Practice from a Data Breach

A data breach is when an unauthorized party breaks into a company, individual, or organization’s system to disrupt, control, steal, or manipulate private, protected, or sensitive information.   

Therefore, these breaches happen when someone is looking to exploit your software or personnel internally to gain access to private data. However, it can also occur unintentionally when someone from your staff or business associate accidentally sends or transfers information to the wrong party.    

For medical practice purposes, a breach in particular is usually linked to data use or disclosure under the HIPAA Privacy Rule that compromises the security or privacy of protected health information (PHI).   

According to HIPAA Journal, from July 2021 to June 2022, 692 significant healthcare data breaches were reported. Therefore,  records of more than 42 million individuals have been exposed or impermissibly disclosed.   

Among the leading causes of data breaches, ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations continue to be in high numbers. Other leading causes are:

  • Unauthorized access or disclosure. 
  • Loss or theft. 
  • Improper disposal.   
Steps to protect your practice from a data breach    
1. Have proper security controls in place   

In the first place, practices must have antimalware and antivirus software. Even if they are not 100% guaranteed solutions, they are essential to protect your practice from data breaches. According to the 2020 Ponemon Institute & IBM Cost of Data Breach Report, it takes an average of 280 days to identify a data breach. Current antivirus products contain features to detect unseen threats. These products can offer early detection of potential violations and provide an extra layer of protection.   

2. Follow best practices for security policies and procedures 

This covers a wide range of topics, such as best practices for passwords and using multi-factor authentication whenever possible. It also includes encrypting hard drives in the office and reviewing employee access profiles. Audit internal and external staff to ensure they follow these basic security best practices.    

Also, your practice should develop policies regarding control access, ePHI authentication, activity logs, audit controls, automatic logging off after a certain period, and message encryption and decryption.    

3. Train your staff in cybersecurity   

Cybersecurity must become part of your organization’s DNA. First, you should adopt a security-minded culture. Then, schedule and conduct cybersecurity awareness training for all your employees. To follow up with your staff, conduct phishing tests to ensure they learned in training. Cybersecurity must come from the top, and employees should embrace it to be effective.   

4. Partner with a medical IT solutions partner   

Medical practices’ IT, technology, and data security requirements differ from other types of businesses. It is critical to partner with an IT provider that profoundly understands HIPAA requirements and the business associate (BA) relationship. They should also be aware of the severe responsibilities entailed with overseeing devices and equipment that interact with and store PHI    

At AdvantEdge, we understand the importance of having controls and safeguards in place to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your PHI. Our team combines good policies and procedures with technology to protect your practice.     

To learn more about best practices and how to protect your practice from data breaches, get in touch with an AdvantEdge expert or stay up to date on company and industry trends by visiting our Linkedin page.