How healthcare executives can balance access and protection for critical patient data management

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How healthcare executives can balance access and protection for critical patient data management

May 05, 2020
Health IT

Ensuring patient record integrity
The first layer of defense against cybersecurity threats is patient identity management to ensure integrity of patient records. Mistakenly, some hospital executives fail to acknowledge the link between disparate and mismatched patient records and security breaches. As various healthcare organizations share medical records and mergers and acquisitions bring data together, uncertainty around the accuracy and completeness of patient data increases substantially. It’s difficult to protect the data when the data itself is questionable. Partial records also compromise treatment decisions, and threaten patient trust in the system.

By cleansing the data and organizing it so each patient has a single, comprehensive record, healthcare organizations are better able to match that record to the right patient. This, alone, alleviates certain fraud risks as fraudsters have become adept at creating full and convincing identities to bypass many existing verification methods. To further secure true patient identity, organizations can use an MFA framework that considers digital identity assessment, identity verification, and analysis of fraud risk.

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Implementing multifactor authentication
Utilizing available industry frameworks—such as NIST—healthcare providers can establish a comprehensive defense system with layered controls and planned defenses against various attacks. MFA options include a combination of one-time passwords, email verification, facial recognition, device analytics, phone verification and more – used in the appropriate combinations and at the appropriate access points into a system -- to authenticate users based on the criticality of transactions.

Security strategies seek to accurately differentiate legitimate users from bad actors without introducing unnecessary friction for those with a right to gain access. It’s key to consider the criticality so the tools implemented match the risk level of the data: the more sensitive the request, the more stringent the authentication technique. To encourage patient engagement, step-up authentication should be used so that low- friction authentication tools can be placed at the beginning of a workflow, and higher friction options can be layered in if any of the earlier options uncover suspicious results. This type of MFA solution enables providers to see beyond who a user claims to be to accurately detect and block fraudulent actions like account takeover attacks and fraudulent HSA payments or transfers.

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