For organizations in the healthcare industry, it’s crucial to take extra precautions to protect private patient data. Since 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has upheld a higher standard for organizations in the healthcare sector and scrutinized how they manage their networks. If found in violation of any HIPAA compliance requirements, organizations can expect substantial noncompliance fines and a tarnished public image. In this post, we’ll examine some best practices your organization should be following to keep your network and your patients protected.

Encrypt Health Information

If you aren’t yet, you need to be encrypting all electronic protected health information (ePHI) on your network. That’s because almost two-thirds of all significant data breaches involving ePHI happen because laptops or other portable devices are lost or stolen while storing unencrypted health information.

Unencrypted data are essentially visible to anyone with access to the physical device. Encryption, however, encodes data so it can only be decrypted and read by users with authorized access. Encrypting data is a relatively straightforward step you can take to make it much more difficult for private data to end up in the wrong hands, even when a device is lost or stolen.

Require Complex User Passwords

Require every user on your network to secure their account with a password that uses a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols. Complex passwords are much more difficult for cybercriminals to guess. At the same time, don’t permit anyone on your network to save or store passwords on devices. While that may require an extra step at login, requiring a password at every login is the first line of defense for unauthorized network access.

Implement Ongoing Training

If you want to take a proactive approach to protecting network data, you need to prioritize ongoing training that keeps your team on their toes. Train your team to be on the lookout for suspicious emails that may be phishing attacks and never to relay private healthcare data via email. At the same time, you can use training to cultivate a culture that takes network security and HIPAA compliance seriously. Doing so can be helpful when it comes to following the next best practice.

Guard Against Word-of-Mouth Violations

When staff members share private patient data via a personal conversation, this can constitute a HIPAA violation. Ensure your team understands that conversing about patient data with unauthorized individuals is never acceptable.

Create an Incident Response Plan

In the event of a data breach, you need a concrete policy in place, so everyone on your team knows his or her role to contain the breach. As part of your ongoing training, your team should practice what to do following a data breach, so they feel comfortable and confident in their roles.

Leverage a Third-Party Vendor

A third-party provider can help you take your network security platform to the next level. Make sure you’re working with a partner who prioritizes cybersecurity and HIPAA compliance as much as your organization does. Clarify how they plan to protect private patient data while preparing you for ever-evolving security threats. Taking the time to shop around and find a healthcare IT solution optimized for your needs is often worth it.

Springfield, MO IT Support

If you need help protecting your network, securing private patient data, and training your team to guard against ever-changing threats, contact the experts at PCnet today. We specialize in HIPAA compliance and healthcare IT solutions to keep your network and patients protected at every level.