Organizations that maintain protected health information (PHI) sink or swim based on their plan for protecting data confidentiality. Healthcare compliance is a major cost center and is growing annually – for small, mid-sized, and large enterprises alike.
However, managing PHI isn’t solely a matter of passwords or software patching. Security solutions that work for general operations fall short when it comes to confidential data from patients, providers, or insurers. It’s vital to recognize and act on PHI-specific threats.
What are the five biggest healthcare compliance oversights that lead to HIPAA violations?
Here’s what we’ve noticed time and again at NCA.
1. Employees Searching Confidential Records
Interpersonal conflicts happen, and if an employee decides to “check in” on a co-worker or neighbor, it could mean millions of dollars in fines. Unfortunately, such breaches are hard to detect: The healthcare compliance damage is done in just one short session.
The best way to identify and prevent such activities: Machine learning tools that detect suspicious behavior even if there isn’t a long-term pattern of abuse to catch onto. This helps you hold the responsible party accountable and deter similar acts in the future.
2. Emailing and Printing PHI Documents – And Leaving on the Printer
Ideally, everyone in your organization would know better than to handle documents that could put your healthcare compliance strategy at risk. Still, mistakes happen: Extraneous copies end up sitting in the printer or accidentally stacked with other documents.
On top of that, there’s the ever-present problem of employees using non-secure commercial email to access PHI. An online gateway that requires all users to authenticate and pass basic security checks will resolve the majority of email security oversights.
3. Passwords: Sharing, Changing, and Lockouts
Passwords may finally be on their way out in favor of two-factor authentication and other advanced approaches. But – like the paperless office – “the future” is sure to get here later than you think. For now, it’s essential to consider passwords in your healthcare compliance posture.
Password control can undermine security in two ways: By being too lax or too strict. When password management is onerous, users will bypass it through stealthy, non-compliant methods. New best practices for password generation make it easier on both staff and administrators.
4. Phishing: Employee Training Needed?
Phishing is a growing threat for all data-driven organizations, not just those that navigate healthcare compliance. During these attacks, hackers send sophisticated fake messages that appear to come from regulatory agencies, vendors, and other trusted sources.
The purpose of these messages is to gather access credentials and ultimately compromise PHI by deceiving ordinary network users. These tactics are very effective on non-technical employees, so it’s essential that training take place across functions and throughout the hierarchy.
5. Outdated Systems, Software and Equipment
To adequately safeguard PHI, every link in the technology chain needs to be aligned with the very latest security practices. Although the wisdom of your workforce is a key component, your terminals, servers, software, and more must all be up to date or your efforts are in vain.
A single device that isn’t capable of meeting the latest encryption standards may be responsible for thousands of individual healthcare compliance violations every day. Even annual internal audits aren’t sufficient to meet this challenge: You need specialized technology insight.
NCA has expertise in analysis and remediation of healthcare compliance concerns. Our virtual CISO service provides you with strategic planning and end-to-end guidance to achieve world-class regulatory compliance more efficiently and more effectively than you might think possible.
To learn more about how we can help with healthcare compliance, contact NCA today.