Protecting patient healthcare information has increasingly become an important issue for healthcare providers as security breaches have become more common. There are measures healthcare organizations can take to reduce the chances that their information will be compromised, according to IT experts.

First of all, to secure protected information, it is important for organizations to foster a climate where security is recognized as part of everyone’s job. Healthcare organizations must put in place procedures and guidelines for staff outlining the ways that information should be handled and protected.

Organizations also should establish a full-time security position, someone who is in charge of information security for the organization.

Another item providers need to do is regularly assess their security systems to find out where they may be flawed or less than adequate. Often, having a firm outside the organization come in to do the risk analysis is the most effective way of finding problems.

Hospitals also need to monitor their relationships with their vendors and other companies they do business with and with whom they might share information. Hospitals need to determine how well these other companies handle and protect patient information. They can ensure that information is protected by including security provisions in all contracts with outside companies.

Medical facilities also need to have a process in place for how to handle breaches when they occur. Even if the security breach is not significant enough to report, staff should document all security breaches, also detailing what was done to handle the breach. The report should include what happened, why it might have happened, what will be done about it, and whether the patient was notified about it.

All electronic record systems should have software included that tracks and monitors access to medical records. The system will track the person who accessed the record and for how long. This will also help to control unauthorized use of protected information.

Healthcare facilities and hospitals should also have a process in place for maintaining their electronic security systems, to ensure that they are up to date and in good working order. They need to routinely test the integrity of their systems. According to experts, most breaches occur not because some hacker has invented an ingenious way to hack the system, but rather simply because the system has not been kept current and well managed.

Finally, part of any security system is data encryption. It should not be seen as a solution to all security problems, but just one element in an overall security strategy. All information should be encrypted, according to experts, everything from emails to mobile devices and storage devices.

When it comes to electronic health records, unfortunately it’s not a matter of if a breach will occur, but when. Should you need to hire IT professionals skilled in EHR systems who are experts in assessments, consulting, implementation, upgrades and migrations, contact Morgan Hunter Healthcare!