How We Help Medical Practices Protect Patient Data

If you think about how a sensitive government building or military base is protected, you'll realize it is a combination of methods - there may be an alarm system, armed guards, and various sensors and technology to help secure the site. In other words, a multi-layer defense strategy.

December 10, 2016

Securing Health Information

When it comes to the security of patient data, we deploy a similar strategy though one that’s entirely digital. Here is how we help to secure the networks of our medical clients:

  1. If you stop a thief at the door to the bank, he certainly can’t get to the vault. For medical practices, we use best-in-class firewall solutions that protects the entire network from malicious attempts to gain access. Unlike older firewalls that scan only incoming traffic, these top-of-the-line firewalls scan both incoming and outgoing traffic to stop the latest threats from penetrating the network. This not only prevents unauthorized access to patient data but to *anything* on the office’s network.
  2. In April of last year, CNN reported that there were nearly one million computer viruses or other malicious software released each day. In this threat environment, having antivirus software is not enough; you need a system that automatically and constantly updates this software to protect against threats. All computers on the network of a medical practice are monitored to ensure they not only have antivirus software, but that the software is up-to-date to guard against emerging threats.
  3. Even if a bank has human guards, you will usually find they also have camera systems. Why? Cameras don’t sleep. To provide effective security, you must always be on guard. In the same way, the office’s network is constantly monitored by special software that ensures all the computers and servers on the network – not just the server that hold patient data – have received and installed the latest service packs and software patches. These updates take care of all the bugs, security holes and other issues that are reported by the users and other sources, which, if not addressed timely, will affect the security and performance of the software. Vendors release service packs or patch updates at regular intervals to maintain the current release or version of the software. The monitoring system we have in place ensures these updates are installed in a timely manner.
  4. Doctors keep patient data on an Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system. There are several vendors who provide these systems. All of them have features in common: These systems require login access; that is, only authorized users can access the system. These systems also encrypt patient data, meaning that even if someone broke into the database of patient health information, the data would not be readable or usable. One system that we often choose for the purpose of managing and protecting patients’ data is eClinicalWorks. How good is eClinicalWorks? In 2014, the US Department of Homeland Security selected this EMR to help its medical professionals manage care at all 23 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities.

If you are not sure whether your medical practice is keeping up with today’s evolving security threats, get in touch with our Infrastructure team. We offer free IT risk assessments to evaluate your network’s vulnerabilities and make recommendations that will help to keep your practice and patients protected.

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