“EMR/EHRs are valuable to cyber attackers because of the Protected Health Information (PHI) it contains and the profit they can make on the dark web or black market. These 18 identifiers provide criminals with more information than any other breached records.” (U.S. Health and Human Services: Electronic Medical Records, 2/1/722)
According to this report, healthcare information is the most valuable data for someone with intent to steal. In 2021, the average cost of one single data breach was $9.23 million (compared to $7.13 million in 2020). The most common threats come from phishing attacks, malware and ransomware attacks, encryption blind spots, cloud threats, and employees who—at a minimum—don’t follow best practices for secure technology usage.
When an EMR system is breached, private information will likely get stolen, and perhaps tampered with and/or damaged/destroyed. This can cause serious problems for the organization that suffered the breach: financially, timewise, and reputation-wise.
Overview of InfoSec
This is where information security—InfoSec—comes into play. This umbrella term covers the techniques, tools, and processes that organizations use to protect their technology. One type of InfoSec is cybersecurity, which in turn includes strategies such as data encryption, network security, and more to protect confidential information.
Each element of InfoSec can work intricately together to protect sensitive information from hackers and cyber-terrorists, guarding private patient information, healthcare financial data, and so forth. When envisioning InfoSec as a whole, it can help to picture a triangle or three-legged stool with a triad of core goals making up the system: confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA).
Here’s more about each:
- Confidentiality: EMR systems must focus on keeping private information confidential. Data should only be visible to people with a right to that information, whether that’s the patient or a medical professional.
- Integrity: As a second focus, InfoSec strategies should protect the data from damage, alterations, additions, or deletions—protecting the data from people with malicious intent as well as protecting it from accidental damage.
- Availability: Protection is crucial—but the EMR system has no value if data isn’t accessible to people who need access. So, although this article starts out with the notion of InfoSec versus ease of access, having data readily available to the proper people is actually at the core of the InfoSec structure.
Each healthcare organization should have a carefully crafted InfoSec policy that properly balances the three sides of the InfoSec triad. An information security policy (ISP) is a cyber security solution that should contain best practice guidance to help end users in a variety of roles to balance data confidentiality and integrity with availability/accessibility.
Creating a solid ISP and ensuring that the policy is carefully followed will significantly help to protect healthcare organizations against data breaches that are becoming increasingly more expensive when they occur.
When formulating your policy, consider the following:
- Past breaches with an impact on your healthcare organization: How did the hacker get into your EMR system and what effect did it have? What steps did you take to fix the damage and strengthen your system?
- Past breaches that didn’t affect your healthcare organization: How were other similar organizations hurt by the hacks? What did your organization do that likely protected you from similar damage?
- What current phishing schemes, malware, and more are circulating? What proactive steps have you taken to tighten up security and data integrity? Do you still have optimal access?
- Looking ahead, what security risks are industry experts warning about? What plan do you have to protect your data in a balanced way?
It’s important to create a strong barrier against data theft and damage while making it practical to implement and use on a daily basis. Communicate the policy and how it impacts the role of each type of end user and appropriately train your employees. Explaining why certain steps must be taken can help to get buy-in on your ISP.
As new threats emerge, compare your current EMR system and ISP policy to see what updates need to be made to keep your confidential data safe and secure. Consider what exceptions may arise to your ISP and determine workarounds to continue to protect your data.
EMR/EHR Cyber Security Consulting
As you’re busy running your healthcare organization, it may sometimes be challenging to keep up with current and emerging threats. When that happens, your organization is vulnerable to costly data breaches. If this resonates with you, as an EMR consulting company, we provide experienced professionals who create, implement, and monitor cyber security solutions.
Other experts in our network can train your employees in EHR cyber security measures being undertaken by your organization. The result: an electronic health record system that protects the confidentiality and integrity of your data while allowing ease of access to appropriate users.
HealthTECH Resources for EHR Cyber Security Consultants
Here at HealthTECH Resources, we seamlessly fill in staffing gaps at healthcare organizations that need to create or enhance cyber security solutions. Our experts work collaboratively with you to understand your technology and any past and present security threats. Using this information, they can assist your IT team in protecting your EMR/EHR software and the confidential data it contains.
Our professional trainers will gain an in-depth understanding of your technology and ISP. Then, as they share new procedures undertaken to protect data, they will do so in ways that engage your end users. In other words, they’ll interact with your employees to help boost their adoption rate of your ISP for the ultimate in technology protection.
To discuss your needs or to get started, we invite you to contact us online or to call us at (602) 806-8949. Our boutique agency is the smart choice for your IT staff augmentation thanks to our 20 years of experience, extensive professional networks, and deep industry connections. We provide experts as consultants, contract-to-hire professionals, and permanent placement, including on projects with stringent requirements.
PRESIDENT/CEO AT HEALTHTECH RESOURCES
Larry has specialized in building strategic healthcare relationships for over 25 years, helping the nation’s top payors and providers solve some of their most pressing business challenges through an intelligent mix of staffing services, training, and consulting.