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

May 05, 2020
Health IT
Erin Benson
By Erin Benson

When it comes to cybersecurity culture, many healthcare organizations are overconfident about their defenses and underprepared for potential attacks. With a significant increase in digital use occurring as a result of the COVID-19 crisis leading healthcare providers to deliver more virtual care and staff to work remotely, establishing and maintaining secure data access can certainly be daunting. While the need for data security has never been greater—thanks to innovative hacking schemes—the simultaneous demand for a frictionless user experience has reached new heights.

How can a health system executive successfully balance an increasing desire for easy access to data for their patients with the need for protection against breaches to critical systems? Both can be sufficiently maintained with upfront and behind-the-scenes security strategies that include comprehensive patient identity management and multifactor authentication (MFA) tools.

Accessing information
Granting patients access to their protected health information (PHI) is critical for patient engagement and care delivery. Equally critical is ensuring that only correct and legitimate users gain access to medical records. The business of creating fake identities and filing fraudulent claims is lucrative for fraudsters. Amid the constantly evolving digital landscape, data breaches persist as hackers exploit vulnerabilities in systems, fraud management, operations, and people.

The online retail business has taught customers to expect quicker, more convenient ways to access services – and customers are expecting that same convenience from healthcare organizations now too. Anywhere, anytime access to information is essential as patients seek to gain more control over their health. Through portal technology, patients can schedule appointments, request medication refills, pay bills, view test results, and communicate with their providers via secure messaging. They can also request mobile text and email communications about appointments. On the provider side, telemedicine services, remote monitoring, and medical device data are adding to access demands and requirements for security.

While patients are understandably concerned about the privacy of their online medical records, they deserve comprehensive, integrated access to them throughout their healthcare journeys. Hospitals and practices can adapt health information technology strategies to increase access while protecting privacy. The goal is to enhance engagement with a positive user experience while impeding fraudulent activity. Today’s cybersecurity decision-makers can achieve the goal with a multilayered, comprehensive protection approach.

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