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Is Data Security a Big Concern in Healthcare?

Updated: Sep 29



The technology is changing even as you read this. Almost every sector in the country uses technology and the ever-evolving innovations that this advancement entails. Of all these segments, healthcare is an important component that has come a long way. Healthcare has undergone tremendous changes so much that it now heavily depends upon technology. These developments have completely changed the ways for us, enabling us to conduct procedures without the need of a trained professional or heavy machinery and mechanisms. However, there are always two sides to a coin. We must look out for the potential dangers these developments may contain.


Cyber security is a big concern for the professionals today all over the world. With few regulations in hand and the paucity of sophisticated resources, hackers and other violators have an open field at their dispense. Businesses hold personal data as well as that of their clients which includes the personal information of the customers, banking data, sensitive content, payment information, etc. If some unauthorized person gets their hands on it, they might end up misusing it.


An IBM report containing data for several domains showed that the healthcare industry had the most expensive healthcare cyber security frauds, costing about $6.45 million for every such attack. With much digitization of the healthcare sector, very little is coming in for healthcare cyber security. With major changes like the maintenance of health records electronically, all the medical bills and insurances coming online, there is a big scope for increase in cyber-attacks. As per reports, around 15,085,302 patients in 2018 alone faced breach of healthcare cyber security protocols; at least one breach of healthcare cyber security is experienced by about 90% of the organizations every year. To make the matters worse for the healthcare organizations, there has been a witnessed increase in ransomware attacks.


The struggle is far worse for the healthcare organizations which use primitive mechanisms and outdated technology, making them far more vulnerable to the healthcare cyber security attacks. On the front of the patients, the risk is high because they don’t document their medical records like the banking and other important documentation. All these factors coupled with several constraints have made healthcare cyber security, a matter of grave concern.


Digging a little deeper into the healthcare cyber security, let’s first acquaint ourselves with the elements of data security.



Elements Of Data Security

There are various major grounds that make the healthcare cyber security the big concern that it is today. Certain elements comprising those points of worry are:


· Confidentiality: This is an important aspect of healthcare cyber security because at times information being shared may be sensitive enough to ruin a company’s reputation. In such cases, it can be shared by authorized persons only.

· Integrity: The data available with an organization should be absolutely thorough and accurate in details. Thus, integrity gives an important aspect to data.

· Availability: the availability of data is imperative for any requirements at any point of time, thus ensuring a seamless flow of work and information




What are The Regulations Related to Data and cyber-Security in Healthcare?


In India, we do not have any set laws or regulations in place to cater to the healthcare cyber security practices. Various developed countries like the USA, EU all have regulations and give a lot of importance to the healthcare cyber security and privacy for better access, availability and accountability. Some of those regulations already in place are:

· HIPAA COMPLIANCES

HIPAA compliances are regulations with the biggest userbase and impact in the USA for healthcare cyber security. HIPAA has made it mandatory for the organizations under its mandate to follow closely, their privacy practice notices which should be posted out for their patients to be able to review. It is absolutely up to the healthcare providing organizations to keep up with notices and hire associates for their business compliances with these regulations for the healthcare cyber security purposes. Any case of non-compliance with these, on the disclosure front (for privacy policies) and not keeping up with updates would result in HIPAA violations. There are two components of HIPAA for healthcare cyber security concerns:


  • The Security Rule – The focus of this rule is to securitization, creation, reception, usage and for maintaining personal records of patients through organizations authorized under HIPAA. The HIPAA security rule basically sets rules and standardized guidelines for all aspects of healthcare cyber security.

  • The Privacy Rule – the focus of this rule pertains to safeguarding the personal healthcare information which includes patients’ medical records, information regarding personal health and all other areas for private healthcare. The privacy rule safeguards healthcare cyber security by preventing disclosure to third party.



What is DISHA healthcare?

DISHA(Digital Information Security in Healthcare Act) is an Act established to set standards and regulations through eHealth authorities at a national and state level. It regulates data collection, data storage, data transmission and its usage. This Act also reinstates reliability, confidentiality and security of the patients’ personal records to maintain the sanctity of healthcare cyber security and the digital healthcare data.


The DISHA healthcare Act spans over several orientations like physical, mental, physiological, sexual, etc. to keep a track of patients’ medical records, biometrics and their medical history, ensuring the access only to the patients as is mentioned under personally identifiable information norm.


DISHA healthcare maintains electronic records for patients and any information governed under the Act, the patient information can be used as a means for unique identity, means of contact or locating them as it consists of the patients’ name, contact no., address, financials, date of birth, etc. It also has national level and state level. Under its ambit come various clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, pathology laboratories etc. Keeping in mind the healthcare cyber security, DISHA has laid strict penalties for any violations.


· PDP BILL?

Known as the Personal Data Protection Act, the PDP Bill is a first in India for a comprehensive healthcare cyber security. It ensures confidentiality of all healthcare patients, workers and organizations. The PDP Act is applicable right from small scale retails chains to e-commerce giants. Its jurisdiction is over data being collected, shared and processed by the state or an Indian company. It can be done by any Indian citizen or any person or organization incorporated under the Indian law, international entity processing the data or business based in India.



Problem Healthcare Faces in India?

As compared to various developed countries like the US, India faces a plethora of healthcare cyber security concerns. There’s no guarantee of privacy or confidentiality of medical records including personal details, biometric data, government identity, etc. This guarantee is neither there for the patients seeking quality treatments and insurance, nor for healthcare organizations right from small clinics, nursing homes to giant chains of hospitals. This also at times hinders seamless stream of data and operational hindrances are also encountered.


On a deeper level, sometimes psychotherapists like to record the sessions for their and the clients’ reference. At the other times, patients can record confidential discussions or consultations with doctors and then use them later against the same doctors. This is a serious breach of both trust and confidentiality. Along with this, cyber-attacks that are rampant these days. Sensitive information if caught in wrong hands can be extremely dangerous and healthcare organizations absolutely cannot lose their personal records. Keeping all these points in mind, we should look for ways to mitigate losses by a stronger healthcare cyber security protocol. It will also ensure increased competence and seamless performance. Aligning cybersecurity and patient safety initiatives not only will help your organization but will also strengthen patient’s trust.


How Healthcare Organization can take Steps to Ensure Data Security at their Level

Some of the practices that can be introduced to mitigate healthcare cyber security crisis are:

1 Identification of private and confidential data from the pool

Having an understanding of the entire data in terms of where it lies, who holds sway over it and differentiating private information from public information is of foremost importance. With a lucid understanding of this, you can better asses the measures required for protection of distinct data points and hence, a better trajectory to chalk out for healthcare cyber security.


2 Curb the ease of data accessibility

Not every employee in an organization can have an access to the confidential data. Hence, it’s imperative to segregate them and identify who gets access to what kind of information. Access to confidential and privileged information cannot be given and necessitates efficient management to reduce any loss r harm to the data.


3 Creating a safe data security to be set in place

Rise in cyber crimes has not left untouched, the organizations in either the public or the private sector. This has necessitated healthcare cyber security a big concern for the healthcare organizations and calls for suitable policies to be set in place for surveillance be that on digital tools, accounts or for usage of data and resources.


4 Having cloud backup plan

It is imperative to have a back-up for your data to be able to mitigate damages not just due to cyber fraud but also in case of natural and man-made disasters or other operational problems. Even if there’s a harm inflicted, back-up ensures safety and smooth functioning.


5 Making employees aware of data security concerns

A careless employee makes an organization as much vulnerable as a cyber-attack does. Hence, it is important that employees are trained and made aware of consequences of ignorance and inefficiency with any data regarding the organization. It is especially important if the information they deal with is deemed confidential. For the healthcare sector as well, it is an important component of the healthcare cyber security concerns and employees should watch for phishing emails, cyber bully links, etc.


6. Abiding by DISHA and the PDP Bill

Compliance with the bills already in place can help a lot as they provide guidance for the healthcare cyber security concerns for both employees and organizations


7 Using latest servers and technology

Server managers today give due attention encryption for communication or storing data like sensitive passwords. Deep review of firewall data can help in efficient and streamlined overall working.


How Docterz App Can Help in Ensuring Data Security

Docterz as a platform consider Data Security as a prime concern. We are a virtual platform that believes in providing holistic solutions to doctors to help them say good-riddance to several difficulties they face in their professional life like administrative hassles, maintenance of records and keeping up with the confidentiality clauses, other operational and privacy concerns. Docterz strives consistently to come up with newer, more updated features and techniques to provide you with better healthcare cyber security in your clinics, hospitals, no matter what the size of the organization.

We help healthcare organizations maintain records of patients’ history for the benefit of patients as well as for doctors’ reference.

The features that make Docterz a safe and secure platform to invest in:

1. We are not connected to any market place or pharma company so we do not have any utility in patient data/prescriptions.


2. We totally survive on doctor's subscription payments and do not sell the prescriptions or patients' medical records to any 3rd party.



3. We can sign a legal agreement on data security with doctors/hospitals.


4. Every doctor has their own username and password which the doctor can reset and keep with them and we cannot access his account without his password.



5. Every time somebody logins in a doctor's account, he gets an OTP on his number.


6. Not touching doctor's data is their major Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).


7. Recording cases through app if doctors are dealing with any high-risk case to safeguard themself from any medical legal problems


8. Docterz Platform are the first One to Install AWS Server while ensuring data protection. AWS Server is considered a reliable cloud platform helping in data protection, accelerate innovation, unlock soloed data and develop personalized care strategy- all while operating in a highly regulated Industry.


9. Docterz platform has come up with on web-app, we have given a “REC button”. All your high-risk cases can be recorded in an audio-visual format and stored on cloud for future references to mitigate medico-legal social media problems


FINAL WORDS:

Data Security and Cyber security has become a grave concern in every sector. The way we can effectively tackle it is by first acknowledging it as a concern and then understanding and taking all preventive measures to safeguard yourself from any cyber trouble.





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