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    Security Basics for Healthcare IT

    Hospitals and other healthcare organizations are reliant upon electronic medical records, digital billing, and other forms of IT automation. Sure, physical records can be stolen, but it is much more difficult to steal a paper record than a digital one.

    Digitalization puts patients’ privacy and health history at risk.

    Which is precisely the problem HIPAA was designed to solve.

    What Is HIPAA?

    If you work in IT in the medical field, HIPAA is one of the most important acronyms you will ever know. It stands for the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act, and it was endorsed by Congress in 1996.

    Another phrase for the HIPAA Privacy Rule is the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information. These regulations dictate how a person’s health information can be used or disclosed. Over the years, as technology has advanced, the rules regarding HIPAA have evolved. Those required to follow the rules of HIPAA include healthcare plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and healthcare providers.

    The privacy rule provides patients with control over how their healthcare information is used, creates boundaries for use and disclosure, and sets national standards that must be followed, regardless of how large or small the healthcare organization is.

    Three Tips for Better Security in Healthcare IT

    Here are three simple things that you can do right now to make your healthcare IT systems safer.

    Tip No. 1: Get Educated

    Make sure you know the ins and outs of HIPAA regulations and you keep up with all changes that occur. Make sure everyone on the IT staff also understands these things.

    You never just want to meet the regulations so you can comply. You want to exceed the regulations. This is better for your organization, and better for the patients who entrust your organization with their private and personal information.

    It is also a good idea to perform your own audits. This way you know if your employees are complying with HIPAA requirements.

    Tip No. 2: Implement Password Management

    In general, employers allow employees to create their own passwords and don’t demand that these passwords are complex. Keep in mind that many people have trouble remembering passwords, so they use very simple passwords that are easy to remember. If they are forced to come up with complicated passwords, they often write those passwords down, negating the security benefits of complex passwords.

    Implement password management for the company. Fortunately, a range of services help with the creation and management of passwords. Keep in mind that you should always remove a person’s access to the system as soon as she leaves your employment. Do not delay.

    Tip No. 3: Access Control

    You do not have to give all employees access to everything on the systems. Instead provide controlled access to records and information. Provide various access levels, and determine the level appropriate to each worker.

    As you can see, HIPAA plays a massively important role when it comes to security and compliance in the healthcare field. Make it a point to learn everything you can about HIPAA and how compliance can improve your organization.

    AuthAnvil to the Rescue

    When implemented correctly using a quality solution, two-factor authentication (2FA) will keep your digital infrastructure safe without inconveniencing employees and serve as the basis of a security service.

    In most organizations, it doesn’t take long after implementation for staff to fall right back into their old bad password routines — which in this case isn’t a disaster because those old routines are now much safer due to the extra layer of authentication.

    You may want to use 2FA in conjunction with single sign-on (SSO) to make it easier for employees to sign into your client’s systems. SSO allows users to have direct access to all of the platforms they use, but they need only one credential to access them. It’s like having a single, very secure key to access 100 different doors with 100 individual locks.

    SSO is definitely something you’ll want to look for when considering your options for a 2FA vendor. However, remember that just offering SSO isn’t good enough – you must also do a deep dive to understand any 2FA vendor you are evaluating.

    Learn more about how AuthAnvil deepens security through 2FA.

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