– The emergence of telemedicine as the “new normal” for healthcare, calls for medical practitioners and providers to keep up with the technological repercussions brought about by these services. This includes preparing for cyberattacks, namely data breaches. A “data breach” or a “data leak” occurs when confidential information, such as health records, is stolen and accessed by unauthorized agents. Healthcare providers, payers, and health centers must now, more than ever, enforce stricter protocols in securing patient privacy. From scheduling appointments to the consultation itself, patient-centered solutions on privacy should be prioritized.
What information can be found in health records?
1 Personal information such as your name, contact details, address/es, billing information (bank account details)
2 Personal information of family members (in case of emergency)
3 One’s medical history (e.g. illnesses, operations)
4 Previous and on-going appointments with doctors, hospitals, care facilities
5 Reminder from care providers on scheduled appointments, procedures, etc.
6 Details regarding your care and treatment (e.g. list of medication/s) as discussed by doctors, nurses, etc.
How are health records stored?
Health records are stored either physically or electronically. Physical health records include all printed documents involving the patient. Electronic health records include all text messages, calls, images, videos, and other forms of online communication. Given the shift towards telemedicine, electronic health records are more advantageous because of its accessibility, transferability, and portability. It makes it easier to communicate with your healthcare provider. This also, however, increases exposure to data breaches. According to HippaJournal
1,064,652 healthcare records were breached during May 2020.
Although the causes for this could not be determined, health services should work towards ensuring patient data privacy. Abiding by the HIPAA Law is one solution to the problem of data breaching.
What is the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)”?
HIPAA is a federal law that sets standards in electronic information exchange and limits how patient information can be used by healthcare providers, insurance plans, and employers. It protects the patient’s rights to privacy. Although health service providers have the HIPAA law as the standard for patient information protection, not all companies follow these regulations.
What are the different safeguards to protect patient information?
Aside from ascribing to the HIPAA Law, there are other ways health service providers can protect patient information.
1 Data Encryption
Encryption transforms your data into illegible texts, making it difficult to understand for those who do not have access to them.
2 Proper disposal of information
Patient health records must be transferred to a secured and authorized device. Other electronic copies should be permanently deleted. This can be done through data wiping software or physically destroying the hardware.
3 Regular updating of passwords, firewalls, virus protection
Passwords, firewalls, and virus protection should be regularly monitored and updated to strengthen patient information security.
Providertech prioritizes patients’ rights to privacy and safeguards patient information by complying with HIPAA regulations in its appointment reminder solutions. It is one of the first messaging platforms that allows streamlined and efficient communication between patients and doctors, whilst securing patient information. Providertech’s appointment reminder solutions via text, voice, and email messages are not only HIPAA compliant but are also tailored towards the patient’s preferences through its customizable rule engine. These solutions make it easier to improve the quality of patient care while optimizing operational efficiency for healthcare providers, payers, and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).