We all know that patient privacy is fundamental to building trust, but as more & more patient data becomes digitised the need to protect and preserve patient information and have a robust data protection strategy in place has never been more critical.
Unfortunately, the cybercrime economy has become increasingly lucrative and we’re seeing criminal efforts to attain medical data become more sophisticated. It’s a very serious issue and private practices are on the frontline.
Why medical data?
Cybercrime used to be focused on retail data, credit cards in particular. However, as digital communications have changed the way we communicate and transact, the value of assuming a person’s identity has increased significantly.
Think about it… Customers can quickly freeze or cancel their credit cards as soon as they detect a fraud, and financial institutions have software that does this automatically.
However, health data is unique to an individual and can’t simply be frozen or changed. Names, birth dates, policy numbers, diagnoses and billing information are all distinct and of great value to fraudsters.
This data can be used for identity theft to commit insurance fraud, buy drugs, take out loans, and any number of other transactions that require personal information.
Unfortunately, data breaches can cost healthcare providers and patients more than just financial exposure with most breaches leaving patients publicly exposed and embarrassed resulting in the deterioration of the practice/practitioner’s reputation.
How can I improve the safeguarding of my patient data?
The move to cloud based technology sees significant improvements in security, document control, automatic software updates and the opportunity for increased collaboration with patients amongst many other benefits.
It’s inspired and allowed me to develop a cloud based electronic medical records system Clinic to Cloud which provides practice management tools that prioritise the integrity of patient and business data.
In response to rising security threats, the system has been built on a robust Microsoft application that replicates and backs up data every minute, maintains advanced firewalls and undertakes real-time monitoring of threats.
“It’s really reassuring from my perspective to have a product that’s linked with Microsoft, and is a company that you then know has a lot of data integrity and safety features,” says Dr Joseph Sgroi, an obstetrician and Clinic to Cloud user.
This level of commitment is often too onerous for smaller businesses to complete in-house, which is where the Clinic to Cloud solution fits. You see, traditional server platforms of any size, whether under your reception desk or in a data centre, require the very same level of maintenance for smooth operation.
However, as you may appreciate, many remain un-maintained, either accidentally or intentionally in a bid to save costs. This presents a significant data security and business continuity risk.
On the compliance side, Clinic to Cloud is integrated with both Medicare and MIMS, which provides the added benefit of reducing administration time.
That said, digital security is never a set and forget solution. User security protocols like password and device policies remain essential to maintain the integrity of your data. You need to be diligent to avoid getting caught out on a simple oversight.
Coupled with this prudent approach, it’s my professional opinion that Australian health practices can both mitigate the risks posed by cyber criminals and improve compliance through cloud technology.
Clinic to Cloud does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for independent professional advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. See the Clinic to Cloud Disclaimer for further information.