The US healthcare system never seems to catch a break, unfortunately. It’s facing one of the biggest and worst challenges it has faced in decades (read: the pandemic). While facing it, healthcare providers are continuously looking to improve healthcare services, enhance patient safety, reduce preventable medical errors, and increase positive patient outcomes. To do so, hospitals and health systems need to address Several issues they regularly face, one of which is patient data corruption that leads to medical record mix-ups, among other issues. While you can learn how to improve patient information protection, this is a continuation of the topic. While you can learn how to improve patient information protection, this is a continuation of the topic. That being said, take a look at the consequences of not protecting patient data and a few more ways hospitals can protect patient data and improve healthcare outcomes.
Why hospitals must protect patient data at all times
Patient information such as vitals, allergies, medications, medical history, diagnoses, lab test results, names, and addresses are now recorded within EHRs (electronic health records). As a result, protecting patient data is of utmost importance.
Not protecting patient data can lead to:
- Data breaches
- Patient data corruption
- Medical identity theft
- Litigation costs
- HIPAA penalties
- Compromised patient records
- Detrimental patient outcomes
As a result, hospitals must prioritize protecting patient information at all times. While we’ve already seen some ways to do that, let’s explore a few more ways how hospitals can protect patient data, ensure patient safety, and improve healthcare outcomes in the process.
Five more ways healthcare providers can protect patient data
Monitor and restrict access to unauthorized applications.
Patient data is undoubtedly one of the most important and sensitive pieces of information, which is why hackers sell it for up to $1000 after stealing it. However, internal breaches must be taken into consideration and many might use the information for nefarious purposes.
After monitoring which individuals and applications have access to patient information, restricting unauthorized users and applications can significantly improve patient data security, reducing chances of an unwanted incident. However, that’s not enough, as continuous monitoring is required to detect new changes or anomalies that might hamper patient information. Moreover, ensuring effective authentication protocols can take patient data security one step further.
Monitor and restrict the usage of unauthorized applications.
One of the more overlooked reasons that cause data breaches is not monitoring the software installed on employees’ computers. While this might seem too small an issue, it can have huge implications. Unwanted, redundant, unlicensed, or nonsecure software can lead to data breaches as they might be malicious and contain malware. Thus, monitoring and controlling applications on your employees’ computers can boost security significantly.
Ensure that the applications used are official, updated, licensed, and relevant to the employees. Protect accounts with administrator rights to prevent unauthorized installations or changes, reducing hidden malware chances in the process.
Encrypt patient information.
One of the most effective ways to protect patient data is by encrypting them, especially when it is at rest or in transit. Even if hackers successfully steal patient information, encrypting it renders it useless for them. Encryption has become faster and more efficient than ever and using the right approach can help healthcare providers reduce costs and safeguard patient data effectively.
Backup patient data regularly
One of the most underrated but most useful tricks to protect patient data is by creating backups regularly. There are many ransomware cases where hackers are encrypting all the information on the affected systems and demanding an obscene amount of money. Backups can be quite beneficial in such scenarios. Ensuring that patient information is being backed up regularly in locations that are inaccessible to outsiders lessens the impact of ransomware significantly. If not done so, then any and all operations within the hospital will be disrupted heavily, impacting patient outcomes in the process.
Deploy solutions that protect patient data even after breaches
While all of the above can effectively safeguard patient data, responsible healthcare providers can go a step further and prepare for the worst. Data breaches have been increasing rapidly and even the biggest hospitals are being hit, showing that nobody’s safe.
While data breaches seem inevitable, medical identity theft can be prevented with RightPatient.
RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform used by responsible healthcare providers to protect patient data. It links the EHRs with the photos and biometric data of the patients during registration. Moreover, the platform is versatile enough to be used across any touchpoint, starting from appointment scheduling – making it ideal for telehealth sessions.
After the patient schedules an appointment, they receive an SMS/email to authenticate their identities remotely. They need to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license – the platform automatically matches the images for a positive match. New patients don’t need to worry – they are provided with biometric credentials.
During hospital visits, patients only need to look at the camera – the platform performs a biometric search to identify the patient and provides accurate medical records within seconds after finding a positive match. The standout feature is that the entire process requires no physical contact, making it the most feasible solution during (and after) the pandemic.
The platform protects patient data even after a data breach. RightPatient red-flags fraudsters when they try to verify themselves as the patients – they might have the patients’ information but not their faces, preventing medical identity theft in real-time and protecting patient information. It prevents patient data corruption and mix-ups, ensuring patient safety in the process.