A growing trend in health care is specialization of treatments, which causes the decentralization of health care. No longer does one medical facility do checkups, critical care, lab work, and x-rays: everything is outsourced from one health care provider to the next. This is a benefit for patients because it enables them to receive more personally tailored treatment. Decentralizing health care creates a system that is more cost effective, accessible, affordable, personal, and closer to home for patients. However, with all of the benefits for patient care, there is also one major drawback. With the increase in outsourcing, the risk of ePHI being breached is greater than ever before.
The practice of decentralizing health care and outsourcing treatments requires more communication between healthcare providers because it’s impossible to coordinate treatment — or outsource operations— without sharing information. What’s essential is that it be secure. “More communication means greater risks of data breaches, cybercrime and ransomware,” according to an article about decentralizing health care from HealthIT.com. The communications that are necessary in today’s age of decentralized health care need to be protected with data management and transfer practices. Does your practice have strategies in place to share this patient information without violating their ePHI?
Protected health information (PHI) includes:
- Past, present or future physical or mental health conditions
- Health care services provided
- Payment data
To make sure that you are keeping your patients’ information safe, be sure that you are following the technical safeguards outlined in the security policy. (If you are a HIPAAgps user, refer back to the Security training video). Prevention methods, such as encryption and access controls can aid in breach prevention. Avoiding a breach not only preserves patient confidentiality, but it can also save your company from sizable fiscal losses. According to an article by HealthITsecurity.com, the average data breach costs companies nearly $4 million—making each stolen record around $380.
Today, one of the best ways to provide patient care is through specialization and decentralization, so, change is inevitable. Don’t let the fear of a potential breach keep your company from providing the best patient care possible. Implement the proper technical safeguards to keep both your patients’ records and your company’s reputation secure.
Join HIPAAgps to learn best practices for protecting your patients and your organization.