There’s a delicate balance in EHR systems today between protecting information for patient privacy and HIPAA, and making that information available for patient convenience and care team communication. With the growth of features and advancements in EHR technology, cybersecurity must be considered to ensure that the increased availability of patient data doesn’t compromise patient privacy. Here’s a quick glance at how to add accessibility and features to your EHR system without compromising the privacy of patient information.
How Will Enhancing Your EHR System Impact Cybersecurity?
As health records become more widely shared both within and across healthcare systems, HIPAA requires that there are sufficient controls in place to meet compliance and guard patient privacy. However, there are also other standards to consider. The recent deadline for the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union covers three facets of personal data that are regulated under the new standard: genetic information, biometric information and physical or mental health information. This covers four different collection categories, including data that has been provided with specific consent of the patient, data provided for public health purposes, data processed for preventative or work-related medications and processing data that is of vital interest to the patient and provider to deliver optimum healthcare options.
Improving Access to EHRs
Digitization is driving the need for better access to EHRs. They provide better access to medical information by the patients, allowing them to increase their personal involvement and investment in their own healthcare. However, it also creates areas of concern for existing security and privacy regulations. A recent study showed that approximately one-quarter of patients chose to avoid accessing their EHRs due to concerns about the privacy and security of that data. With the recent string of cybersecurity breaches, how can we properly secure health information while still keeping it accessible in a way that makes patients comfortable accessing that information?
Securing EHRs from Data Breaches
To avoid data breaches while still providing patients with improved access to protected health information, healthcare systems need to incorporate controls and best practices effectively:
- Assess your IT security program’s status. This will often require buy-in from your healthcare organization and having open communication with your third-party software vendors to determine the current state of your system’s security. This allows you to conduct an in-depth cybersecurity assessment, which will allow you to find potential gaps in your network’s protective features that may lead to a data breach.
- Build a cybersecurity culture. No matter how secure your system, it’s only as good as the people using it. IT professionals around the world bemoan the use of poor passwords as employees bypass security in favor of convenience. By educating your employees about risks to EHR security and ensuring compliance to system protocols, you can ensure that your system remains in compliance with HIPAA and similar regulations.
- Create a layered approach to EHR security. Restrict access so only necessary parties have access to personal data. Encryption provides patient information privacy when data is in transit. Segmented firewalls secures your EHRs in-network from outside attacks. Web app security ensures that apps on external mobile devices can’t be used to create a weak point in your system. Adding visibility with segmented access provides endpoint protection of EHR data.
By securing your EHR system during the enhancement process, you can improve patient access to health records without compromising security. If your system is ready to step up to a more comprehensive EHR system, we can help. Please feel free to sign up for a free demo of Exscribe’s EHR software today.