Last Updated on July 20, 2023
Now occurring on an alarmingly regular basis, data breaches are among the most serious challenges facing the healthcare industry today. Data theft damages healthcare organizations in a number of serious ways, from hurting their reputation to stalling operations.
To help defend against these attacks, here are a few healthcare data breach prevention strategies that leaders can implement immediately.
> Wondering where to begin with data security? Get a crash course on the importance of cybersecurity here
3 Essential Healthcare Data Breach Prevention Strategies
#1: Add Data Breaches to Your Crisis Management Plan, Stat
A cyberattack can cripple an organization’s operations in a number of ways. Failing to protect their data can mean losing patients — not just today, but well into the future, too. Moreover, some recent attacks have brought patient care to a halt by blocking healthcare professionals from the data they need to conduct important procedures.
For that reason, it’s important to make sure that data breaches are part of every healthcare crisis management plan. While most organizations do have a plan in place, few include this important factor. But as the industry works to adapt to the lessons of the recent global pandemic, there’s no better time for leaders to make sure that their crisis management plans include data breaches.
If this seems like a big task, the good news is that it isn’t much different from other crisis scenarios. As with so many other adverse events, the first step to planning for the fallout caused by a data breach is to make sure that staff have a course of action to follow.
“A well-written, carefully planned script is useful in almost any unexpected, yet predictable situation,” advises the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. “It allows staff to quickly and confidently follow protocols, presenting a prepared and caring manner to the patients. Teams find this especially useful for the clerical staff who need to quickly and professionally deal first-hand with these tricky situations or phone calls.”
> Need help creating a crisis management plan? Get a primer here
#2: Make Sure to Involve Leaders of Nurse & Clinician Teams
It’s important to remember that data breach prevention strategies should go beyond leadership to include the entire clinical staff. Too often, nurses and other workers are given only a superficial level of training on cybersecurity. But for true vigilance against data breaches, leaders should make sure their essential workers play an active role.
“Thanks to their in-depth knowledge of facility and patient workflows, nurses may be the first to identify cybersecurity pain points and issues that others might not see,” writes Nathan Eddy at HealthTech Magazine. He goes on to cite experts stating that it’s “critical to have nurses at the table and on teams involved in cybersecurity planning.”
Of course, training employees in the basics of cybersecurity is a no-brainer. Because they work on the front lines of patient care, nurses and clinicians should understand the importance of spotting potential breaches and reporting any incidents as they occur. These basic considerations should already be part of every organization’s onboarding and ongoing training scenarios.
However, these experts advocate going one step further. Including clinical team leaders in cybersecurity planning sessions helps make sure policies spread quickly throughout a facility. And that could make all the difference in whether a cyberattack succeeds or not. In addition, it also helps ensure fast response throughout the organization if a data breach does occur.
“Cyberattacks are growing, and nurses spend most of their day in the EMR and in their healthcare email,” as one expert told Eddy. “In their busy world, in the blink of an eye, they could click on a link that could affect their whole healthcare system.”
#3: Double-Check These Basic Data Breach Prevention Capabilities
Of course, the best way to deal with a data breach is to prevent it before it happens. And while there’s no way to guarantee cybersecurity, there are many ways to help improve it. To that end, every leader should make sure their organizations are taking the following steps:
- Carrying out a yearly security risk analysis to identify and correct high-risk areas and weak spots
- Implement policies that ensure only authorized personnel access critical patient data, when and where necessary
- Build relationships with qualified attorneys to ensure legal protection if and when a data breach occurs
- Make sure that IT leadership is compliant not only with HIPAA and HITECH but also applicable healthcare cybersecurity frameworks like HPH
- Restrict employees and contractors from using unsecured personal devices as part of their patient care tasks
- Make sure that any third-party vendors have comprehensive cybersecurity plans, including managed service providers
> Pro tip: Choose a healthcare MSP with Joint Commission Certification to help ensure diligence to data security
Help Ensure Healthcare Data Breach Prevention with CareerStaff
Here at CareerStaff, we’re proud to help healthcare employers implement the solutions they need to ensure the best possible patient care. From nationwide clinical staffing to strategic workforce management solutions, our award-winning, Joint Commission-Certified services are designed to meet the highest standards of cybersecurity. Contact us today to learn more!