The healthcare industry experienced 26.1 million with patient records being breached in 2020 and 24.1 of the breaches were healthcare cyber attacks. The end of 2020 saw a host of ransomware attacks and vendor-related breaches that outpaced previous years in the healthcare sector. For comparison, the industry saw just 15 million in medical records being breached in 2019 compared to 2020. But not every security incident was caused by major ransomware attacks; some costly breaches were caused by much more mundane activities, such as improperly disposed materials or employee snooping.
Online Record Keeping
Medical professionals have shifted from paper documentation to electronic medical record keeping since the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid Incentive Programs (known as Promoting Interoperability Programs). The system was brought into the field by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2011.
The transition of medical records online has made it efficient for medical professionals to record federal payments made and received.
When implementing the online record keeping system, you have to have a backup data recovery plan to combat any disaster that may result in loss of records.
Why is Data Recovery Important?
The proper disaster recovery plan with minimum downtime will let the healthcare facility resume work without data loss or corruption.
If there is not an effective data recovery plan in place, it will lead to delayed recovery or complete data loss. Just as the doctor says “it is better to be safe than sorry”, you should have a recovery plan in place from the beginning.
Effective recovery plan requires you to look into some essential factors that would maximize data storage and security and minimize losses. Some of the factors include:
1. Prioritize Mission Critical Data
Not all information saved in servers is essential, you need to prioritize critical data relevant to the facility’s functioning.
Essential or as mission-critical data needs to be saved without loss or hindrance. There are several medical procedures that have been scheduled and paid for and then there are numerous that are on line. If any of the information is lost, it will pose critical problems for the hospital and patients. To protect data, restrict access by managing user permissions which are essential components of preventing a healthcare data breach. Create a wireless network for guests: The most secure way to offer patients and visitors wi-fi access without allowing access to your organization's entire network is to create a subnetwork.
2. Data Backup
Automatic and manual data backup plans need to be regulated at relevant intervals, in case of a disaster, the last saved data is the most updated record.
Which data, at what intervals, data, and data storage time are the key points to be considered when creating a data backup plan. These backups are usually linked with the hospitals and medical facilities. But are usually outsourced which keeps them safe from loss and corruption.
3. Compliance with HIPAA
The legal medical record safety guidelines exist to keep the confidentiality between the doctor and patient.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 in title II mandates all medical data should be managed ensuring patient privacy. If the medical facilities and hospitals don’t abide by the law, they will face financial and other penalties imposed by the government.
4. Disaster Recovery Plan
Be very careful with the type of secondary storage you use to create data backup; the choices are between physical data centers and virtual servers.
All storage plans need to be considered according to the needs of the medical facilities and hospitals. Though physical data centers are not the first choice, they are still used widely. The virtual servers are the preferred storage choice for many, it much easily scalable and accessible.
5. Proper Disposal of Records
- Burning, shredding, pulping, and pulverizing for paper records.
- Pulverizing for microfilm or microfiche, laser discs, document imaging applications.
- Magnetic degaussing for computerized data.
- Shredding or cutting for DVDs.
- Demagnetizing magnetic tapes.
Choosing the right medical record keeping platform to assist you with data recovery and management ensures all the above-discussed points are implemented to avoid future liabilities.
Pettigrew Medical has assisted numerous medical facilities in selecting the proper data management plan. The safety from data corruption and loss is pre-decided with the right partners for the facility’s smooth and compliant functions.