Technology is a dominant force in healthcare. During the pandemic, healthcare systems relied on technology to swiftly move to virtual care, remote work, and more collaborative communication and data management systems – and that will accelerate. As organizations speed up their digital transformation initiatives and increase their reliance on digital applications, growing concerns about data privacy arise.
According to a 2021 HIMSS Healthcare Cybersecurity Survey of 167 healthcare cybersecurity professionals, 67% had experienced a “significant security incident” in the past year. Print and scan devices are no exception since their built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, and hard drives can expose organizations to unnecessary risk. In most organizations, cybersecurity budgets are relatively low; therefore, healthcare organizations should look to improve and secure business workflows by simplifying the handling of personal data and documents. Below are three tips for healthcare organizations to practice good “cyber hygiene” and secure patients’ private healthcare data.
Restrict Access to Data and Applications
Access to private healthcare data can be controlled by physically securing your copy, scan, or fax devices and implementing user permissions. Unfortunately, one of the biggest threats to healthcare data security regarding print and scan devices is user error. Pull printing, which is essentially a two-step verification process with NFC-enabled printers using ID cards physically or through a mobile app, can significantly reduce the threat of data loss. With pull printing capabilities, the print job remains unprinted on the device until the user authenticates their identity at the machine. For example, an employee can simply hold their ID badge near a reader, and the machine can be pre-programmed to print or scan documents into a records system before sharing them. This ensures that they are present when their document prints and can pick it up immediately. Pull printing also keeps a log of who used the machine, so companies can trace the source of any attacks that may occur.
Ensure Cloud-Enabled Document Workflows
Another way to protect data is through cloud-enabled document workflows. The cloud has permeated knowledge management (KM) processes with enhanced mobility and efficiency. For context, KM facilitates an audit of data access to help pinpoint anomalies – helping lower the risk of a data breach. In addition, smarter knowledge platforms with process orchestration and system connectivity provide a layer of control across increasingly diverse and decentralized workforces. This allows employees to securely send and edit documents from their phones, laptops, MFPs, and scanners. Furthermore, the process of auditing printed or captured documents helps businesses comply with HIPAA, GDPR, and other privacy regulations.
Automated knowledge-management tools, such as Kofax, dramatically enhance productivity by assisting employees with rote, low-level, and time-consuming tasks. In the case of printing and scanning, for instance, this entails activities like transferring data from a form (whether scanned or on paper), which can be an arduous and mistake-prone process. This is particularly helpful for healthcare organizations with much greater staff resources, as the automation process lessens the administrative burden on staff with more critical tasks to attend to, such as nurses whose priority is to care for patients.
After taking the above steps to safeguard print and scan devices, it is critical not to overlook potential user threats to a healthcare organization’s security. The human element remains one of the biggest threats to security across all industries, particularly in healthcare. According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute sponsored by Trend Micro, employees remain a top security risk for organizations. Simple human error or negligence can result in disastrous and expensive consequences for healthcare organizations. Therefore, every employee’s eyes and ears need to be attuned to potential risks. Security awareness training equips healthcare employees with the knowledge to make informed decisions and use appropriate caution when handling patient data. This could take several forms, from regular reminders to more significant investments such as training and accreditation. In addition, to avoid these types of breaches, companies must invest in employee education. After all, many security issues are caused by accidents, so teaching employees how to be responsible with their devices is imperative for preventing future mishaps.
As healthcare organizations embark on their automation journey, which the pandemic has only accelerated, it is ever more pertinent that they ensure mobile, secure, and efficient devices at every stage of the workflow. Educating employees and automation tools are critical components to overcoming the challenges brought on by the “new normal.” Nonetheless, healthcare organizations must also be adaptive and stay updated on IT security best practices to protect their patients’ private healthcare data.
About Jim Cooper
Jim Cropper is based out of Washington DC-Baltimore Area and works at Brother International Corporation as Director of Sales.