Healthcare workers are aware of the fundamental necessity of safeguarding confidential patient data in accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act standards. Healthcare statistics by HIPAA revealed that healthcare cybersecurity incidents fell by 8% in February 2022 but still faced 46 incidents affecting 2.5 million people. Throughout time, there have been changes to the security measures that healthcare workers must use.
The traditional method of safeguarding medical information involved locking stamped envelopes with patient information in a safe storage room. As the healthcare industry progressed, health information management moved from physical patient files to cloud-based alternatives.
While this transformation enhanced the comfort and effectiveness of healthcare practitioners, it also left critical data vulnerable to cyberattacks. As Electronic Health Records contain sensitive personal health information such as medical history, diagnoses, and treatments, it is critical to ensure the security and confidentiality of this data. In this blog post, we will analyze the importance of data security in EHRs and present statistics highlighting this issue’s significance.
Data Security: What Is It?
Data security is the process of combating unauthorized access to digital data, such as digital health records. Data security in the healthcare industry defends establishments against cybersecurity threats, data breaches, and other security challenges.
Patient information can be vulnerable to theft, fraud, terrorism, and natural catastrophes as a result of these risks and hacking efforts. Data encryption, data masking, disaster recovery, and tokenization are a few examples of procedures that fall under the general category of data security. According to a report by OneTouchPoint, a breach in July 2022 affected nearly 2,651,396 individuals. Successful data security also includes user privacy, security policies, and technological solutions.
What Is the Significance of Data Security in Healthcare?
Data security is unquestionably one of the healthcare industry’s top priorities. Data breaches and cyber assaults have increased dramatically in recent years across the industry. The National Health Service (NHS) suffered a $100 million loss due to the WannaCry ransomware attack. Breach recovery can take time and might be costly to restore. According to PwC, 82% of organizations can’t determine the actual damage from an insider attack. Healthcare breaches are widespread and can have serious ramifications. By implementing data safeguarding techniques, healthcare institutions can remain watchful against assaults and breaches.
- Protection Against Cyber Attacks:
Cybercriminals increasingly target healthcare organizations due to the valuable nature of PHI. According to a survey conducted by Health IT, roughly 24% of health personnel in the United States have not undergone any cybersecurity awareness training to assist in identifying phishing attempts. The report also revealed that 67% of these breaches were caused by hacking or IT incidents, making it the leading cause of data breaches in the healthcare industry. The implications of a data breach can be devastating, including financial losses, damage to reputation, and, most importantly, the compromise of patient privacy.
- Compliance with Regulations:
The healthcare industry is extensively regulated to safeguard patient privacy and data security. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a federal law that sets standards for the security and privacy of PHI. Failure to comply with HIPAA can result in significant fines, lawsuits, and legal penalties. As per HHS.gov, Banner Health consented to pay $1.25 million to settle a cybersecurity breach that affected almost 3 million individuals.
- Trust and Confidence:
Data security in EHRs is essential for building trust and confidence between patients and healthcare providers. Patients need to feel that their personal information is safe and secure and that they have control over who can access it. According to a survey by Accenture, 75% of patients would be willing to share their medical information if they had confidence that their data was being protected.
- Improved Patient Outcomes:
Data security in EHRs can also lead to improved patient outcomes. Access to comprehensive and detailed patient data can assist healthcare practitioners in making more informed treatment plan decisions and enhance overall care quality. However, if patients are concerned about the security of their data, they may be hesitant to share it, leading to incomplete or inaccurate medical records and potentially compromising patient care.
Since health information contains more sensitive personal data than other customer files, healthcare organizations are more susceptible to cyberattacks. Adopting appropriate data protection measures is critical to safeguarding the integrity and reliability of healthcare organizations. Ensuring that EHRs are adequately secured is essential to prevent unauthorized access, theft, or misuse of patient information.
EC-Council University offers a variety of cybersecurity and information security programs that can help individuals and organizations improve their data security practices, including those related to EHRs. The university offers degree programs such as a Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity, masters cyber security, and Master of Science in Computer Science that cover topics such as data protection, network security, and ethical hacking.
Students in these programs can learn about best practices for securing electronic health records, such as implementing access controls, encryption, regular backups, and how to detect and respond to security incidents.