Healthcare providers beware–your practice needs proper security systems to not only prevent hacking, but identify them if they occur!

A Colorado hospital was not as lucky.  “Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, Colo., discovered several of its computers had been hacked.  A virus which had copied screen shots of the computers and stored these images in an encrypted, hidden folder on the Valley View Hospital system, which could have been accessed by an outside entity.”  Article.

As a result, some 5,400 patients are being mailed breach notification letters today. “The information collected by hacking into the computers through a virus.  The virus included patient names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, credit card data, patient visit numbers, and admission and discharge dates.”

Healthcare providers need to be proactive:

  1. Work with healthcare counsel: to update HIPAA security and privacy policies and procedures to be proactive against data breaches;
  2. Work with information security specialists: to make sure information technology safeguards are in place to protect, prevent and identify protected health information and other confidential information;
  3. Work with healthcare counsel: to properly train staff.

These are just a few, basic suggestions.

Realistically, your practice needs to take data privacy and security very seriously.  Unfortunately, many healthcare providers do not believe a data breach can happen to their practice; however, it can, and it likely will, at some point if the proper safeguards are not implemented.

For instance, even leasing a photocopier resulted in a data breach for Affinity Health Plan, Inc.  OCR’s investigation indicated that Affinity impermissibly disclosed the protected health information of up to 344,579 individuals when it returned multiple photocopiers to a leasing agent without erasing the data contained on the copier hard drives.  Affinity settled the potential violations of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules for $1,215,780.

If your organization needs assistance with protecting its data – we can help.  For assistance CLICK HERE.

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