Healthcare Security Part II: Technology and Networking Security

April 15, 2021

Potential cyberthreats are not new to healthcare organizations. Yet the FBI and other United States government organizations have said that they have evidence of increased and imminent threat to health care providers. Now more than ever, healthcare providers actively must dodge these threats, which is growing increasingly difficult. In 2021, it is essential that the healthcare industry partners with managed services providers to prepare imminent attacks.

What are the most common cybersecurity threats healthcare providers see?

When you hear the words CYBERSECURITY ATTACK, you probably think of high-level hacking or your records being leaked to nefarious sources, which certainly DOES happen. However, the more common threats are simple mistakes that can happen anytime. Something as simple as faxing information to the wrong healthcare provider or even email conversations between staff about patient information when they do not have the consent to do so. Another common threat is born from curiosity, such as staff accessing records to which they do not have consent to access such as a friend or fellow coworker.

But how can a nurse access these files if they are filed electronically? This is a prevailing downfall to electronic health records (ERHs). ERHs are available to all nurses, meaning that a nurse can access the records of any patient in the system, including those who are not their patients. While these breaches can be accidental, they are still breaches. Healthcare providers face strict liability for protecting a patient’s records. When these well-intentioned mistakes happen, a healthcare provider is at risk of heavy penalties and fines.

Some healthcare organizations may be well taken care of through their internal I.T. departments—and that’s GREAT—but many health care executives are facing overload, budget constraints, and confusion. That is where managed I.T. services providers (MSPs) can bring value. Technology and technological compliance are two extremely important elements of running any healthcare organization. Managed IT services can be the solution. Below are benefits of using IT services for healthcare organizations. That’s why we started our own IT Managed Services company, Heron Managed Services, to address the networking and cybersecurity aspects of your holistic security needs.

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HIPPA compliance is a massive component of healthcare. Using a managed IT services provider that is well versed in HIPAA compliance can be a great help in managing compliance needs. The MSP can not only help with compliance assessments but can crossover and help mitigate the results of the assessment. If you leverage a compliance company for your assessments, their assistance stops at the post-assessment report, and your organization must come up with a game plan to implement the technology changes needed. Using IT services for your healthcare organization takes the burden of technology strategy off your shoulders.

Beyond assessments and improvements, using an MSP with compliance experience means they can assist your organization with ongoing compliance and cybersecurity needs. IT services are not a seasonal investment and should be assessed at least quarterly. This can be a daunting task. You can use your MSP to help you complete monthly, quarterly, and bi-annual checklists, as well as assess your network continuously, so that you stay compliant. They can also help promote an ongoing culture of compliance within your organization by hosting training sessions or sourcing your employees with training. Being proactive will help in case you do experience a cyber breach, as well as penalties will likely be less due to your organization’s preventative actions. This will also help maintain the requirements necessary for your organization to keep its cyber insurance.

Vendor Relationship Management

In healthcare, you utilize a lot of technology vendors, which requires a lot of agreements and relationships. Your MSP can help manage your IT associated agreements and relationship with these vendors so you can focus on your patients. MSPs can ensure the appropriate records are maintained with these associates and vendors, and that these organizations are meeting compliance requirements when it comes to their interactions with you. Your MSP can often handle third party technology vendor interactions, such as when there is a tech issue involving one of your vendors, or an outage or required update. Using IT services for healthcare means some of the heavy lifting of technology management is taken off your plate to focus on your organization’s goals instead.

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