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Practice Management Tips

Protecting Patient Information in the Age of Healthcare Data Breaches

If you had to guess which industry is most targeted by cyber-attackers what would you say? Banks? Credit Unions? Other financial institutions? Guess again.

In 2015, the healthcare industry beat out financial services to become the biggest hacker target, a competition which I’m sure they were thrilled to win.

I realize that I may have just broke your brain, but have no fear – answers are here! Today we’ll go over what makes the healthcare industry such an easy target, why anyone would want to attack it in the first place, as well as a few simple steps we can take to stop this madness.

What Makes The Healthcare Industry So Vulnerable?

Connected devices such as tablets, laptops, and smartphones are one of the key reasons that make the health care industry so susceptible to serious cyber security issues. About 70% of all clinicians use mobile devices of some sort to view patient information, and over 41% use them to get clinical data.

Internet-connected medical devices tend to have major vulnerabilities and are highly susceptible to security threats. This is due to a combination of long product lifespans, regulatory oversight, and niche usage.

Why Attack The Healthcare Industry?

Hackers value the information contained in healthcare data, such as social security numbers and home addresses, more than any other type of data. Why? It’s lucrative.

Once this personal information is obtained it can then be sold to third party buyers to be used for anything from marketing campaigns and spam mail to data analysis and identity theft.

How Does a Breach Occur?

As we covered before mobile devices are a large part of the problem, but there are many other issues that occur as well, including:

  • Workers using unauthorized cloud-based apps
  • Doctors providing workers with their usernames and passwords
  • Unlocked storage facilities containing patient information

How Can We Protect Ourselves?

Ransomware, malware, and denial-of-service are the top cyber threats facing healthcare organizations today. Thankfully, there are several steps we can take to help prevent these attacks, including but not limited to:

  • Access controls
  • Encrypt information
  • Train medical staff to detect and avoid phishing attacks in emails
  • Backing up data
  • Restricting user access

For more great information on protecting patient information please take a look at the infographic below, courtesy of the awesome folks at UIC.

 

PROTECTING PATIENT INFORMATION IN THE AGE OF BREACHES INFOGRAPHIC

UIC’s Online Health Informatics Degree

Interested in making health informatics a career? Be sure to check out UIC’s Online Health Informatics Degree for an accredited organization you can trust!

is a 20 year veteran of healthcare having managed medical practices. He advises medical practices, physicians and practice administrators on how to run their practice and manage their medical billing and revenue cycle management. Manny speaks, blogs and makes videos at www.CaptureBilling.com, a blog that is tops in the medical billing and coding field. READ MORE

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Search engines are the #1 driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by than 300 percent. And, companies that blog have 434 percent indexed pages than those that do not. Blogging, however, is not a post-it-and-see-results marketing channel; to be effective, it requires promotion and SEO optimization. Here is the SEO blog checklist I use for Capture Billing’s blog to make sure I get it right. Continue Reading

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The analysis of any medical billing or coding question is dependent on numerous specific facts -- including the factual situations present related to the patients, the practice, the professionals and the medical services and advice. Additionally, laws and regulations and insurance and payer policies (as well as coding itself) are subject to change. The information that has been accurate previously can be particularly dependent on changes in time or circumstances. The information contained in this web site is intended as general information only. It is not intended to serve as medical, health, legal or financial advice or as a substitute for professional advice of a medical coding professional, healthcare consultant, physician or medical professional, legal counsel, accountant or financial advisor. If you have a question about a specific matter, you should contact a professional advisor directly. CPT copyright American Medical Association. All rights reserved. CPT is a registered trademark of the American Medical Association.

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