The current advancements in technology pose both advances and risks to the healthcare industry. On one hand, it makes all the processes easier and faster, making quality service more convenient and efficient. On the other hand, it poses risks to privacy and information security.
What is HIPAA?
Before diving into the topic of whether or not technology is a blessing or a curse, it is first important to understand the standards of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). HIPAA regulations were originally put in place to secure the privacy, security, and accessibility of the patients’ confidential information. With the increased affordability and convenience of healthcare in the previous years, the volume of patients and the surge of data have increased in the healthcare industry. As such, managing this data has become difficult, making the concerns of electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) more pressing.
What makes the healthcare industry vulnerable?
To some extent, all industries are fragmented. However, this fragmentation is not as crucial as that of the healthcare industry. For every patient, different tests are done in different labs, checkups are done by different doctors, insurance is given by varying healthcare providers. In all these webs of exchanges, the healthcare industry should ensure that information is only transmitted to certain people. These interactions cannot be isolated in your own protected server because there are some third-party actors that also need access to the information. With all the needed transmission of confidential information, does this mean that technology poses a higher risk than benefit?
Navigating safely with ePHI
Knowing how to navigate through technology and cybersecurity is much more beneficial, safe, and efficient than any other means of information dissemination. By knowing how to deal with the threats, technology can be your best weapon in protecting ePHI. In this information age, having a secure system is still your best bet against cyberattacks.
To know that you have a secure system, it should give you access to all the information you need regarding all the information you are trying to protect. Every log-in within the system is recorded, authenticated, and monitored. Any transmission of information and attempts of transmissions should be recorded and analyzed by the system. The system should alert for any unusual activity or movement, especially those that involve the storing and use of ePHI. The system should constantly scan and prompt for any possible vulnerabilities before any data breaches take place. By understanding and utilizing technology to your advantage, it could be a powerful tool in securing ePHI.
It is easy to shy away from understanding technology especially with its dangers and complexities. However, if you take the time to understand and utilize its potential, it is, ironically, the best weapon to use against the dangers it posses. In the question if technology is a friend or a foe, the answer does not lie with technology itself, rather, it lies with the user and how they decide to use it.