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Top Security Concerns for Physician Practices

By: Nextech | February 5th, 2015

Top Security Concerns for Physician Practices Blog Feature
securityThe last two decades have seen an unprecedented rise in technology both at home and in the workplace. This transition has affected all aspects of our lives, both public and private, and physicians practices are no exception to this statement. While advances in technology have largely been positive for the world of medicine, it's impossible to ignore the fact that a host of new security concerns have come along with this rise in user-friendly systems. When determining which EMR software best suits the needs of your practice, it's important to consider the specific situations and security concerns that your clinic or office will undergo on a daily basis. With that in mind, take a look at some of the most common security concerns affecting doctors' offices today:

Threats posed by mobile devices

If you've spent any time in a medical setting over the past few years, then you have undoubtedly seen the rise of mobile devices firsthand. Tablets, smartphones and the like have gone from being enjoyable luxury items to absolute necessities for many clinics, particularly those in the medical industry. The portability and computing power of these machines makes them perfect for data-driven and communication-intensive workplaces such as physician clinics. Still, they do not come without their fair share of risk. As HealthCare IT News has pointed out, mobile devices can be particularly susceptible to viruses or hacking based on the fact that their operating systems are updated extremely frequently. Computers are especially likely to be breached when they've recently been updated, as all the bugs will likely not have been worked out by the manufacturer yet. Ensure that you're running the same comprehensive antivirus software across all devices in your clinic and that your networks are secure. Bringing in a private security consultant is a great way to do this. 

Ensuring that mobile devices are secure is essential to data safety.

Through securing your Wi-Fi networks and regularly updating your security programs, you can ensure your patient data will remain safe. 

Data backups and potential loss

If you run a clinical practice, then you understand that you become privy to a great deal of sensitive data about your patients. Obviously, handling this data with HIPAA compliance is key to building strong, sustainable relationships with your patients. In order to do so, you need to not only ensure that you're storing it properly, but also that you're prepared for sudden losses of data. Physicians Practice reported that nearly 40 percent of all practices aren't engaging in proper techniques to back up their patient data. All data and electronic medical records should be stored on a second server or storage device. Regardless of the EMR you're using, make sure you're taking precautions to back up all patient data on a secure and safe second server or external drive. This way, in the event of a system crash or data loss, you should still be fine.

"Nearly 40 percent of all practices aren't engaging in proper techniques to back up their patient data"

Securing networks adequately

As you may have already inferred, the increased presence of mobile devices and the surge in electronic data that has followed advances in EMR software requires extra attention to security. One of the most important considerations is ensuring that your networks are secured against outside threats and possible data breaches. While mobile devices are essential to daily communication with all staff and patients of your practice, you'll need to change the password for your Wi-Fi and data networks regularly. All passwords should be complex, ideally involving randomly generated numbers, letters and symbols. Set dates each month to change them and inform only your staff and patients. This way, you can be confident that connectivity will not fall into the wrong hands. Were someone with bad intentions to gain access to your Wi-Fi, they could steal patient billing data and medical records. Also, a lot of computers will allow you to track how many individuals are connected to your network's IP address at any given time. You may want to check on this regularly to ensure that you aren't experiencing data breaches by unauthorized users or devices.

In short, though you may want to bring in a professional security consultant from time to time, many steps towards ensuring your data security can be simply completed on your own.