A person’s protected health information (PHI) is some of the most sensitive and private information one can have. For cybercriminals, this presents a tempting target that can be sold for thousands of dollars on the dark web. And unfortunately, poor cybersecurity practices and out-of-date technology from increasingly digitized business processes could put clients and patients at great risk for data breaches. That’s why safeguarding data security and integrity is a must for organizations in every field, especially for the healthcare industry.
Of course, maintaining patient data integrity in the age of digital file systems is no easy feat. Patients’ healthcare records are frequently duplicated and disseminated across multiple applications, devices, and programs. Many users may also access, add to, and alter this data throughout the treatment process. This makes it harder for healthcare institutions to keep patient records coherent and accurate. Both small practices and larger organizations can stay on top of these challenges by staying informed about and implementing current cybersecurity best practices.
Maintaining data integrity helps pave the way for more efficient healthcare accounting, speedier treatment, and better care provided overall. Here are 5 best practices for hospitals and healthcare providers to protect and preserve the accuracy of their patient information:
1. Set Up the Right Digital Infrastructure
Decisions about what health information system (HIS) would work best for your organization, the acquisition and implementation of the system, plus the maintenance of the entire digital infrastructure are fundamental requirements in a modern healthcare facility. Getting the foundations of a hospital’s digital system right from the start is an important step toward better data integrity.
With the right tools at your disposal, your healthcare institution can create, store, and access data accurately. In general, you’ll want a digital infrastructure that can help you streamline business procedures involving patient records and minimize the risk of inconsistencies, duplicated data, and other costly errors. Databases with cross-platform support and applications that integrate easily and securely can maximize operational efficiency for your staff and business partners.
2. Provide Continuous Employee Training
A state-of-the-art digital working environment means little if employees don’t have the training and knowledge to use it effectively. User error is one of the most common underlying causes of compromised data integrity. Luckily, healthcare organizations can mitigate this risk by ensuring that all employees who access and use patient records and data management systems are properly trained. These organizations can begin by evaluating staff members’ general computer literacy and awareness of cybersecurity best practices to identify knowledge gaps and areas for improvement.
3. Create Regular Data Backups and Store Them Securely Offsite
Lost data from cyberattacks, natural disasters, and other adverse events can have devastating consequences. Backing up your information as frequently as possible and storing these backups in a safe offsite location will help your organization maintain data integrity and availability even in emergencies. What’s more, having up-to-date data backups also supports efficient disaster recovery efforts, so your organization can resume servicing patients with little to no downtime.
4. Implement Strict Data Access and Usage Controls
It’s essential for healthcare institutions concerned about data protection to establish strict protocols for who gets to access patient data and how the information will be used. It’s also important to limit when and on what platforms will the data be available. Implementing stringent access and usage controls prevents unauthorized users from altering, erasing, falsifying, or otherwise compromising patient information, with or without malicious intent. These controls are an effective means of preventing problems caused by both bad actors and simple user errors.
Healthcare organizations should adopt a least privilege model when it comes to data access. This means limiting access to patient information and certain sensitive applications, keeping them exclusively to users who require this access to perform their jobs. Furthermore, users should only be able to access as much information as they strictly need to do their work effectively, and no more. The least privilege approach has historically been a successful way for organizations to preserve data integrity and privacy.
5. Audit Your Data Frequently for Maximum Accuracy
Even organizations with state-of-the-art technology and well-trained staff need to perform regular quality assurance checks to ensure that established procedures and available resources are being utilized correctly. Quality assurance protocols also help healthcare providers identify and mitigate small data issues before they can escalate into larger and more difficult problems.
Healthcare institutions should schedule regular reviews of records to verify that these are accurate and confirm that data integrity is well-maintained companywide. You may also want to perform further, more in-depth audits whenever your organization implements new operational policies or makes any major changes to the systems and software employees use.
ANSI Delivers Secure Data Solutions to Healthcare Providers in the Philippines
The right software provider will help healthcare providers develop the digital infrastructure necessary to safeguard data integrity across the entire organization. With decades of experience in the industry and a wide array of modern healthcare accounting solutions available, ANSI is an ideal partner for Philippine healthcare organizations looking to optimize their data management capabilities. Contact us now and we’ll gladly work with you to build a system that efficiently addresses your institution’s unique needs.