If anything from email addresses to health records is released, and the customer is put at risk, it is bad news for your company, and the patient will likely take their business elsewhere. That is why it is essential that you protect your company and the info of your patients with these tips.
Importance of Protecting Data
Protecting patient data is not only important for your bottom line but in some cases, it is the law. In the medical industry, doctors and professionals are held by the rules set forth by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA was made to ensure that the mass quantity of data that patients give to their providers is safe, secure, and out of the hands of hackers and other individuals who try to do them wrong.
Not only is it important for medical establishments to keep this private information safe, but according to a component of HIPAA called the Security Rule, health companies are also required to have technical safeguards in place to ensure that this information remains secure and that all employees are trained on what must be done. The damage associated with leakage of customer data can destroy your company's credibility and not only result in a loss of clients, but also expensive damage. According to a study of data breaches conducted by IBM, the costs associated with a data breach could reach millions of dollars, with the healthcare industry seeing the most damage with upwards of seven million in damages per scenario.
This is why it is incredibly important that you are proactive instead of reactive and educate everyone on your team regarding current threats as well as how to avoid them.
Protecting Your Website
These days, we live in a very digital world, where customers like to do their business online. As a digital marketing manager, it is your job to create a unique online presence that will keep patients coming back while being a helpful portal for important information. It is not only about how your website works but if it is secure enough for patients to feel safe when providing their information.
The first step is to partner with your IT team to identify all the vulnerabilities on your website. For instance, if your website allows people to upload files, then you could be at risk as hackers can upload viruses just as easily. So if you do have that capability, put updated virus software in place to analyze everything that is uploaded and delete any harmful files.
If a harmful virus is ever introduced to your servers, then you need to have a team in place to act swiftly to mitigate the damage. Have backup servers in place so that data can be easily recovered. Then, have a conversation with your IT team about how to patch those vulnerabilities so you will be ready in the future.
Everything on your website should be updated to the newest security protocols so hackers don’t have a chance for manipulation. Have strong passwords that are not easy to guess with intermittent upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Also, limit the number of people who can access the internal components of the website, so unskilled employees can’t create new vulnerabilities, and past employees with a grudge can’t still log in and cause damage.
Train on Common Threats
It is also important to keep everyone from the secretary to the head provider in the loop about potential risks and how to avoid them.
For instance, one of the most reliable tactics that hackers use is phishing emails, where they send a fake email that appears to be an authentic message from a manager or a bank, but instead, it contains a link or attachment that when clicked or opened, can unleash malware and ransomware into your server. Ransomware involves a virus that locks up your computers and the data within them until the company pays a hefty ransom. Even then, it is hard to know which data was truly released. To avoid damage from phishing emails, employees should know not to engage with emails that they were not expecting and not open any attachments unless authorized.
If a virus is introduced into your computer network, the damage can be reduced by having all employees follow proper protocols. Employees should regularly back up their data in addition to encrypting private info so hackers can’t read it even if they gain access. Those who like to work offsite need to be extra cautious of protecting the data on their mobile devices, especially when connecting to public WiFi. Hackers often use Man-in-the-Middle attacks where they create a fake WiFi network that looks legitimate, but instead, you are basically connecting your device directly to the hacker’s computer. Always ensure that you are using the correct WiFi network when you are in public, and never leave your device unattended.
Finally, always remember that it is not only about being mindful of what comes into your organization but also about how you manage what goes out. Every business needs to retain paperwork for a predetermined amount of time, but when it is time to clean house, you don’t want to simply throw it away. Instead, you need to properly shred all paperwork so it cannot be stolen after the fact.
Again, medical establishments are highly at risk for this type of fraud, so HIPAA compliant shredding by a legitimate vendor is necessary. Any documentation that includes everything from a person’s name to their photo should be properly shredded, and these companies will ensure that everything is shredded to effectively minimize risk and that the shreds are disposed of properly. This is absolutely essential for any business, from retailers to those that design healthcare apps.
Patients should have all the faith in the world in their doctors. If that trust is ever lost due to a preventable data breach, any faith that is built may falter. These security protocols are relatively easy to implement, and they can keep your customers happy and your data protected.