Data breaches are common and can occur at almost every type of organization or company, but they are particularly troublesome and widespread in the healthcare industry. Patients’ sensitive medical records are constantly at risk, whether the organization is large or small, affecting individuals at every level of data breach.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains an online database of healthcare breaches affecting over 500 individuals, but many smaller breaches occur each year as well. According to Forbes, over 112 million records were compromised by data breaches in 2015 alone—and 90% of the top ten breaches were related to hacking or IT incidents.
The average cost of a breach continues to rise, and in 2014, that average stood at $5.9 million. With the high prevalence of cybercrime still rising, the healthcare industry must take steps to reduce the number and impact of data breaches, which lead to the compromise of sensitive data and financial consequences. Healthcare organizations should follow cyber security best practices to minimize the risk of a breach. These steps include:
Educating Employees on Security Risks
Healthcare organizations may have stellar employees, but human error can always lead to security issues. Proper training on regulations, security protocols—and support for employees using mobile devices—can help reduce these errors and improve overall security. Employees should only have the data necessary to perform the functions of their job—the fewer places data is stored, the more secure it is.
Choosing Vendors Carefully
Many healthcare organizations use offsite data storage systems that work with third party vendors who are responsible for the organization’s records. Choosing partners who follow best practices are essential to keeping data safe. When an organization does not have direct control over the data, the security precautions must be just as strict as if the data was stored in-house.
Best Practices are the Best Defense
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to prevent a data breach. By following best practices, however, healthcare organizations can minimize the risk of a breach and be better equipped to handle a one in the future. Preventing a breach may require quite a bit of preparation, but it can save money in the long run and prevent patients’ sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands.