Electronic health records also known as EHR Database are used by hospitals and healthcare organizations to store patient data and other relevant data needed to keep the organization running properly. Protecting patient data is crucial and it’s even more crucial in recent times because there has been lots of breeches lately. Top companies like Target have lost customer data and information and Equifax had the information and data of as many 145 million U.S. residents breached and hacked. Fixing these problems have been critical in the industry.
The continued advancement of technology has led to more and more people being equipped with the tools and skill sot hack into the data of companies and access customer information. Now, in the healthcare industry, customer data is sensitive and keeping it save should be of utmost importance.
EHR Databases contain information on patients, their medical history, insurance information, credit card numbers, prescriptions and records of treatment for chronic conditions like cancer or diabetes and even social security numbers can be misused by hackers… This is why healthcare organizations should always try to keep their EHR Databases updated and secure.
Using Healthcare Devices and Apps
Every day a new healthcare app is being launched on the Apple iTunes store or the Samsung app store. And everyday individuals download apps on their phone that collect and store their data, track their health and all sorts. It is essential that before individuals download any app or before they read all the information and understand how their data is being mined and used.
Many people unknowingly agree to share their personal data with these apps and permit the apps to use the data for targeted advertising but also permit the apps to mine their data and sell it to other companies for marketing and research purposes. Once these third parties have a hold of your personal data, there is no telling what they can and will do with it. For example, if these companies and apps that have your data are then acquired by a different company, their rules no longer apply.
Now your data will be in the hands of a company that’s subject to different data rules and conditions. And once your data gets into the wrong hands, it’s out there most likely forever and there’s nothing you can do to change that.
Using Strong Passwords
As obvious as it seems not to use weak passwords many people still use weak and generic passwords because they are easy to remember and are just less hassle in general to choose. Individuals need to learn to use strong passwords to protect their devices but also to protect any online accounts they might have. So, when you create a platform online, don’t use a weak password as if you do it’ll be easier for hackers to guess your password and thus have access to your information and data.
Every EHR Database should also have strong authentications in place so that not just anyone can log in and have access to patient data. Also, usernames and passwords should be changed frequently and when needed. For example, if an employee who has access to the database logins and passwords no longer works for the company, the login information and passwords should be changed immediately.
Using Public and Shared Wi-Fi Networks
Individuals should try to avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. People should be wary of public wifi as they are usually shared networks which means it’ll be easier for other individuals to have access to your device and to your personal information. It is better to use a home network or a secured mobile hotspot or mobile data if you need to access your information on the go.
If you use a public computer, make sure no passwords or login information is saved. Make sure you log out of every public computer after you use it and if possible clear your browsing history, cookies and cache and also delete any documents that you downloaded for viewing or printing purposes.
Watch and Monitor Your Data
From all the points mentioned above, it is clear that individuals need to be watchful of their data and who has access to it. In addition to that, individuals also need to be observant of their shared data and how is being used. They need to monitor companies that already have their data to ensure that it is being used the right way.
For example, monitoring includes carefully studying credit reports, bank statements, constantly reviewing any re-occurring payments etc. This kind of watchfulness will make it easier for individuals to spot any red flags and correct any issues hopefully before it’s too late. For example, if there is a bill you don’t understand being sent from your medical provider, contact them immediately and ask for clarifications.
You would be surprised to find how many of these instances are mistakes and some people just go on paying without knowing. Like when it comes to health some patients can be quite vocal about asking questions concerning their condition and treatment, but when it comes to billing and paying for the medical services most people do not think to ask. Some hospitals offer discounts on services, free services and other extra services that a patient’s insurance covers that they never knew.
Asking questions provides a patient with information about their data and billing that they never knew about. With doctors and nurses being very busy and sometimes overwhelmed with work and a long list of patients they need to see; they forget to inform the patients on say a 20% discount that they can take advantage of (some cuts are even up to 50%).
Also asking the hospital about how they use your data and health information is essential. Hospitals are not obligated to hold your medical information forever so don’t expect your doctor to keep all your health data for years and years. Be sure to ask them about their medical retention policy.