Healthcare is one of the most important sectors that have exponentially increased its usage of digital technologies. To make healthcare services more accessible and efficient, today, digital healthcare has become a new normal. But, with such increasing popularity of healthcare IT, the vulnerability of healthcare organizations against cyberthreats has also increased.
To ensure that healthcare IT security protocols match the quality criteria, there are certain regulations such as HIPAA Privacy Rule in place. Healthcare organizations have to match HIPAA rules apart from regulations set by other bodies such as their country’s government. According to a Statista report, in 2020, $21.6 billion were invested in digital healthcare. This was the largest investment made until now in healthcare IT. So, you can imagine the growing popularity of digital healthcare but in parallel, the increasing requirement of proper cybersecurity compliances that can keep protecting healthcare data even in the future.
In this blog, furthermore, we are focusing on a few points that will explain how organizations can support healthcare IT compliances and meet them. So, if you find the topic intriguing, stay with us until the end of this blog.
An introduction to HIPAA?
Before proceeding further to understanding how a healthcare organization can be modified to meet the needs of HIPAA, let’s get introduced to HIPAA in short. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), in 1966, became a law. HIPAA has compliances that developers are supposed to comply with, especially, if they are building an app that uses protected health information (PHI). Any healthcare app involved in the process of managing, storing, or sharing has to comply with HIPAA.
Measures to take to comply with healthcare IT security standards
Now, let’s discuss the real deal to figure out steps that can be taken to ensure compliance with healthcare IT security standards.
1. Staff training
Top cybersecurity tips under HIPAA or any major regulation require organizations to train their employees. Many cyberattacks are done through phishing. Thus, security awareness among human resources is a crucial step to take especially when the staff is directly involved and has access to healthcare data on their devices.
2. Data encryption
Data encryption protocols have become a common practice among apps. To stop unauthorized parties from accessing, modifying, stealing, or destroying the data, data encryption protocols are designed. Some apps have even started using machine learning techniques to recognize and predict any possibilities of cyberattacks that can occur in the future as well.
3. Proper control
Developers of healthcare apps are supposed to follow healthcare IT consulting protocols that provide the original data owner with proper control over their healthcare data. They decide who they want to share the data with and get transparent information on how their data is going to be used. Under these compliances, unauthorized data access to any party apart from hospitals attaining the patient will be restricted and the control over data sharing will remain in the hands of the patient.
4. Data transparency
To meet HIPAA compliances, data transparency is a crucial protocol. Developers have to ensure that all data accesses are logged into the app so that data owners can figure out which organizations or individuals have access to their PHI. For security audits and to strengthen data privacy protocols, such logs can be really useful. Also, the original owner of the data can ensure if they provided access to organizations mentioned in logs or not. These logs can also be used to track any data breach attempts or entry points that have been used as gateways by cyberattackers.
5. Multi-factor authentication
To ensure the credibility of the app user, multi-factor authentication protocols can be really useful. To enable multiple authentications, information such as one-time passwords, permanent PIN, biometric authentication, etc can be used. Many banking apps are using such authentications as well. Also, it is much easier to ensure enhanced security now due to the continuously evolving security features provided in smartphones. From biometric authentication to face recognition, modern smartphones are capable of offering multiple layers of security protocols that can easily help your app in complying with regulations.
6. IoT device management
Connected devices or IoT devices have access to the data stored on a server. Fitness bands, blood pressure measuring devices, etc, are some examples of IoT devices active in the healthcare industry. Most of these devices are controlled and monitored through mobile apps. Thus, many developers are using technologies such as AI to continuously keep an eye on connected devices to recognize and predict any device that can face a malfunction in the future or become a vulnerable point for cyberattackers.
7. Data backups and restorations
It is crucial to remain prepared in advance, in case patient information gets hampered or destroyed by unauthorized parties. Data backup is the key that can help in retrieving the data. Even in any accidents or natural disasters, these data backups can be used to recover the data. And, to ensure that data is continuously stored on cloud networks in the form of backups, real-time data backup protocols are recommended. Many healthcare organizations are also considering blockchain technology as the secured server to store data and its backups along with strong encryptions.
8. Regular risk assessments
With time, as technology gets more advanced, the digital world prepares itself for evolved cyber threats. To ensure that your app is keeping up with these cyberthreats, regular risk assessments are required. It can help you in identifying any weaknesses that might become an opportunity for cyber attackers in the future. And, as new cyberattack cases occur in related markets, it is also ideal to update old security protocols to prepare them for new attacks that are being noticed by cybersecurity experts.
Now, risk assessments do not only require observing the application regularly, but they also need to cover connected devices, the risk level of authorized personals, authentication methods, etc.
Security compliances for healthcare IT companies keep evolving with time. But, the ultimate goal is to ensure the security and integrity of sensitive patient information that can be misused by unauthorized parties. Hopefully, this blog helps you in understanding some bits and pieces of the information that can help you in building apps by ensuring compliance with many leading regulatory bodies including HIPAA. We will see you with another well-researched blog soon.