Are Your Patient Confidentiality Standards Putting Your Practice at Risk?
If it can happen to a major hospital chain like Universal Health Services, it can certainly happen to a smaller doctor’s office. A recent situation surprised many healthcare professionals with the speed of the attack — and the damage that was caused to patients and providers alike. More than 400 locations of the Universal Heath Services hospital system fell into complete disarray as hackers brought this massive organization to its knees.
Staff members resorted to using pens and paper to file patient information, causing widespread havoc throughout the system. Even several days after the attack, IT crews were still hard at work attempting to determine what went wrong and how to prevent this type of attack from happening in the future.
Is Patient Confidentiality Still Intact? The Outcome is Questionable
While the hospital chain claims that patient confidentiality is still intact, it may be impossible to determine if there were significant breaches. This is a healthcare provider’s worst nightmare: attempting to belay the negative impact to the brand in the eyes of the public. Major news outlets throughout the world covered the story, with CNN speaking with several local hospitals in the aftermath of the ransomware attack. While all of the hospitals claim that patient records were not breached, it may take weeks or even months to verify that this is accurate.
How Can Small Medical Practices Protect Patient Confidentiality?
When this type of attack occurs at a large scale, there are often teams of IT professionals inside and outside the business that are able to leap into action. What happens when a smaller healthcare provider is hit with an equally-damaging attack? Protecting patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance, according to the team at Globalquest.
If your office is forced to shift from a computer-based system to a pen and paper alternative, there is the distinct possibility that patient confidentiality can be breached. Having secure and reliable data structures and consistent backup procedures can dramatically reduce the possibility of your small doctor’s office failing before an overwhelming ransomware attack.
Day-to-Day Challenges for Patient Data Protection
While a local doctor’s office or small chain may not present the same high volume of information found in a major hospital corporation, there are still plenty of risks associated with maintaining patient personal, health-related, and financial data.
Consider these scenarios:
- Your temporary receptionist looks up patient records, gaining access to confidential data by using another team member’s login information
- Long-time team members resist changing passwords, often relying on simplistic “Welcome123”-type passwords for your most sensitive business systems
- Locally-stored data is accessed via your office WiFi network, when hackers gain access through a smart TV
It doesn’t take a major hack to completely disrupt your office — and create a patient confidentiality nightmare for your team.
Let Buffalo Computer Help Help Protect Patient Data
When you’re unsure that the information your patients entrust with your practice is being fully protected, contact the professionals at Buffalo Computer Help at 716-206-3200 to schedule a complimentary initial consultation. We will walk through the ways we can help maintain a secure and confidential infrastructure that protects your patient information — and your practice!