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      Top HIPAA Security Risks and How To Reduce Them

      red confidential folder, healthcare paperwork, and stethoscope 273111348Few things changed healthcare quite like the digital transformation of modern business. Yet, we all know that, with the potential for improved patient care and outcomes via information sharing and easily accessible records, there also came considerable risk. In fact, that’s precisely why HIPAA laws were created– to protect vulnerable information and patient privacy while enabling the physicians and dentists to leverage available data.

      But laws don’t inherently make us safe and simple compliance doesn’t secure our data. Attaining and maintaining true data security and patient privacy is an ongoing process that requires understanding, evaluation, and action. 

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      Understanding HIPAA Security Requirements

      HIPAA security rules can be daunting, especially to those not well-versed in the security or IT space. However, it’s important for dentists, physicians, and practice managers to understand the overarching requirements to ensure the security of their data and the safety of their practice.

      The guiding principle behind HIPAA security requirements is to keep patient data, such as electronic health records (EHR), secure in transit and at rest. Data in transit includes both internal and external communications and file transfers. At rest includes storage. However, it’s also vital to keep patient records and Protected Health Information (PHI)secure while in use as well.

      Further, HIPAA security requirements insist upon multiple layers of security ranging from administrative, such as data governance policies and procedures, to logical and physical security mechanisms. Logical security mechanisms would include technological safeguards such as encryption and firewalls. Physical security includes limiting physical access to terminals and servers where patient data is stored. 

      unlocked laptop is HIPAA security risk 138873539Understanding HIPAA Security Risks

      HIPAA security risks are a real concern for healthcare providers and patients alike. Most providers work fairly diligently to implement the necessary security measures to protect patient data. However, as technology advances, so do the ways that hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in security systems. And as more and more of our healthcare communications become digital, the risk of a data breach increases exponentially.

      However, one of the biggest issues is that, because security is often not an area of expertise for physicians, dentists, or their teams, mistakes can be made. For example, HIPAA compliant and HIPAA secure are not the same.

      Top HIPAA Security Risks

      As noted above, understanding where you and your practice may be vulnerable is essential not just meeting compliances but also to mitigating any risks. For many organizations, a HIPAA risk assessment is a key component to understanding individual security risks. There are, however, some more common risks to be aware of:

      • Unauthorized access to data- This involves internal policies and protocols regarding who handles and who has access to PHI and patient data.
      • Theft or loss of data- This includes the actions of a malicious actor either gaining access to your system through compromised credentials, supply chain attacks, or email phishing attempts.
      • Improper disposal or storage of data- Stored data must be carefully protected both physically and logically. On-premise storage can be difficult to manage. Maintaining server security and vital back ups is essential.
      • Lack of staff training in HIPAA security requirements- Perhaps one of the greatest vulnerabilities in any medical or dental practice is human oversight or error.
      • Use of outdated technology- Old technology may still meet your administrative needs but it’s hard to keep it secure. Legacy systems and legacy software often cannot handle modern security software and that can become a big problem.

      increasing security and reducing HIPAA security risk463114815How to Reduce Your HIPAA Security Risk

      Obviously, the first step is educating yourself and making your team aware of potential security risks. However, one of the greatest tools you have at your disposal is a HIPAA security risk assessment performed by a team of IT and security professionals.

      Risk assessments provide a baseline assessment of existing security strength as well as a prioritized and strategic plan for improving your security. Often, they include:

      • Analysis of data storage and transmission mechanisms (email security)
      • Risk and threat identification in the current security landscape
      • Comprehensive review of existing security applications and precautions
      • Detailed calculations regarding the potential impact of a security incident
      • A full mapped out remediation plan and targeted next steps to improve your security stance
      • Staff training and education on permissible uses and disclosures of PHI 

      Successful security takes prioritizing security measures and establishing it as a core value of your operation. That’s why iCoreConnect offers comprehensive security support in all of our healthcare workflow platforms. In fact, our team of experts is prepared to review, revise, and advise, to help you ensure HIPAA compliance and security.

      We are proud to offer iCoreHIPAA, a cloud-based risk assessment tool that provides:

      • Detailed explanations, definitions, and examples regarding your security risks
      • An audit-ready final report with recommended, risk-stratified remediation actions
      • Dashboard tools to facilitate task assignment and completion 

      We also offer iCoreExchange HIPAA compliant, secure email that’s never been hacked. Ever. 

      In addition to the peace of mind it brings when sharing PHI, iCoreExchange:

      • Transmits across a private encrypted network and encrypts email in transit and ‘at rest’ in your inbox
      • Provides a broad referral network
      • Empowers you to send large files, images, etc. without any file size restrictions or limits on the number of attachments

      We value security and we’re sure you do too. Our team is ready to talk to you when you’re ready to prioritize HIPAA compliance and security. Reach out today and let’s make sure you, your patients, and your practice are protected.
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