Do patients need to worry more about Healthcare Data Security?

An organization must always have the condition of its healthcare data security as a highly regarded priority. Specifically as technology evolves and many more facilities connect to HIEs, carry out new EHRs and potentially even give consideration to telehealth, it is essential for healthcare entities to keep their security system up-to-date.

However, if a recent survey is any evidence, patients might not exactly be all that concerned with healthcare data security, specifically on the subject of telehealth options.

Only 2 percent of patients who utilize telemedicine reported that security is their main concern applying the telemedical system used, corresponding to a recent Software Advice survey. The study wanted to determine how individuals viewed the increasingly popular practice of telehealth, and discover if virtual medical visits was potentially the way of the possible future.

Out of an estimate of 500 reviews, 73 percent said that they had never participated in a telemedical visit. However, 75 percent of respondents were either “moderately interested,” “very interested,” or “ extremely interested” in the concept of telemedicine.

Individuals are interested in using telemedicine to essentially increase their overall healthcare experience, according to the survey’s authors. Because of this, “providers should think about how this technology can fulfill patient’s wishes to gain access to medical care from the comfort of home—while saving their practices valuable time and resources.”

Other research indicates that patients may possibly not be the only ones that could potentially be unaware of certain healthcare data security risks. A recent NueMD study demonstrated that the providers might be as well. For instance, in terms of mobile device usage, only 18 percent of respondents were “very confident” that their devices were HIPAA compliant. Moreover, a total of one-third of those questioned said that they were “not confident at all” with the devices being HIPAA compliant.

For technological techniques for communication though, the survey had similar results. Just 47 percent of office staff members and non-owner providers stated that they are very confident in the security of email communications with clients. For the administration as well as owners, that number dropped to 36 percent. In terms of text messaging devices, those same groups of employees had confidence levels of 31 percent and 21 percent, correspondingly.

No matter whether a practice is seeking to enforce telemedicine or not, the necessary healthcare data security measures are required to be in place. This consists of companies being entirely HIPAA compliant, and equipped for the eventual OCR HIPAA audits. However, that same NueMD survey found that just 32 percent of medical practices and their staff surveyed were conscious that OCR HIPAA audits would be taking place.

Furthermore, the survey found that just over half of respondents – 58 percent – indicated that they had a HIPAA compliance program while 19 percent said that they didn’t know whether they had a plan. Approximately one-quarter of those questioned – 23 percent – stated they did not have a HIPAA compliance plan in place.

Essentially, educational services is key. Healthcare organizations, specifically HIPAA covered entities along with their business associates, need to comprehend that they are required to maintain data secure. This is critical as technology advances and companies implement new methods, such as telemedicine. On top of this, open communication with patients is important. Individuals do not need to fear new technology, but they really need to be aware of how their PHI is being stored, used as well as transferred.

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