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How to Avoid the Top 4 IT Healthcare Security Concerns in Your Physician Practice

By: Nextech | November 17th, 2014

How to Avoid the Top 4 IT Healthcare Security Concerns in Your Physician Practice Blog Feature

Has a virus ever hit your computer networks or EMR software? How about a hard-drive failure, data leak, or someone with unauthorized access to your software (i.e. a hacker)? If you have experienced one or more of these IT issues, then you’re probably no stranger to the disastrous consequences it can have for your practice.

It goes without saying that a computer virus, hardware failure, or a security breach of your data will slow or stop the natural working order and production of your practice. How? These computer problems become “one more thing” you would have to worry about, not to mention the added time and labor costs it takes to fix it. Along with that, think about how the prolonged wait/appointment times might upset patients – all because your computer software is insecure or malfunctioning. Don’t run the risk of running your practice’s reputation into the ground.

Whether you are just starting a specialty practice with brand-new EMR software systems, or have been working in an established practice for decades, you know the role your computer security plays in your practice’s production and compliance to HIPAA. Better yet, enhancing the security of your EMR software (and computer networks) leads to swift efficiency in your treatment of patients, leaving them happy and satisfied with their quality of care.

To that end, we wanted to make you aware of the top four most common IT healthcare security concerns for physician practices. Learn what they are so you can take the necessary steps to prevent them and ensure your practice complies with official data security guidelines.

1.) Viruses and malware in EMR systems

Harmful computer worms, viruses, and malware (programs that release, alter, or destroy confidential patient data, EMR, or financial reports) are your No. 1 practice IT concern. The best defense against these harmful programs is an all-in-one, 100% compliant, flexible software solution. 

As the ONC for Health Information Technology points out in its privacy and health information security guide, protecting your practice from malicious content and viruses doesn’t have to be a great challenge. For best practices in practice data security, you should focus your efforts on these four main components: 

  • Technical safeguards: security passwords, virus checks and programs, data encryption.
  • Administrative safeguards: the creation and enforcement of your IT security policy (i.e. various protocols for user authorization and record retention), staff training.
  • Physical safeguards: alarm systems, screen protection hardware and software.
  • Organizational requirements: consistent EMR review and updates as necessary.

 2.) Inappropriate or unauthorized EMR system access

Another common EMR security concern for physician practices is unauthorized access and inappropriate system behavior. Most of this risk can be deterred through the proper use of unique user names and passwords upon login into your EMR software. As a side note, make sure you keep your username and password information neatly recorded in a secure but easily accessible file.

Also, go through and make a quick analysis of your current EMR software tools – or any potential tools you are looking to implement in your practice. Find out if they offer committed user security options, such as user roles, access levels and individual user information. Knowing and being able to use these central components in the latest EMR software will greatly reduce unauthorized user access in your practice. 

3.) Mobile Data Security

Professional use of mobile devices (i.e. tablets, smartphones, etc.) has become the norm in most medical specialty practices. Similar to desktop computers and laptops, mobile devices are susceptible to hackers, viruses, and large scale data breaches, which, again, can lead to considerable problems and cripple a practice’s reputation with patients and in the industry.

Maintaining the security of internal mobile devices is harder than desktop computer networks if you don’t have the right EMR software. A comprehensive EMR technology will easily secure your tablets and smartphones, while also ensuring HIPAA compliance. Moreover, a customizable, intuitive, fully integrated EMR and practice management software solution can facilitate your quest for a smooth transition to ICD-10 and for practice eligibility on incentive programs (such as Meaningful Use).

4.) External and Internal Cyber Security

Cyber attacks, data leaks, and IT abuse typically get a ton of media attention when external parties are involved, but the most common IT security risks come from within an organization. One of the biggest threats (malicious or otherwise) to your computer data security is typically inside your specialty practice. 

Don’t let this point intimidate you.

Beyond generating savings in revenue for your specialty practice and increasing patient satisfaction, a key component of a comprehensive solution is helping you develop your internal IT security practices through:

  • Process documentation.
  • Full-risk analysis for weak points in data systems.
  • Configurable security settings, i.e. user access points and various access levels for those in your organization.
  • Administrative IT safeguards.

The best way to protect your specialty practice from these major security concerns is to take proactive measures against them. Don’t run the risk of serious setbacks due to computer viruses, data breaches, and so on. Taking preemptive measures will ensure the full and continual operation of your healthcare IT and EMR software. Start with a proven, all-in-one software solution that can make the data security and healthcare IT in your practice reliable and foolproof.