Cyber Security: Be a PHI poster child

Q. How do you keep your patients/customers cyber-safe?
Monday, July 25, 2016

A. In 2015 alone more than 100 million patient health records were compromised. Fully protecting patient information has become a never-ending fight, according to the Office of Civil Rights under Health and Human Services. Even if you’re keeping your patients’ records under lock and key, the patients themselves may be sharing their private information through any number of social media platforms.  

Last month, we covered how to prevent a security breach from the inside and next month we will finish this series by focusing on future threats. Today, we’ll discuss tips on how to help your patients and customers from becoming a cyber security statistic.

First, you’ve educated yourself and your employees, now educate your patients on protected health information (PHI). Go the extra mile and show your customers the value you provide by teaching them about the dangers of sharing PHI. While patients sharing their own PHI online is not a violation of HIPAA, your patients should understand the risks.

Become the poster child for HIPAA compliance. Highlight the extra efforts you employ to ensure HIPAA’s guidelines are followed and your patients’ PHI is protected. Show your clients why they should trust you.    

Take the threat seriously and do more than the required risk assessments. Cyber threats are constantly changing and the most vigilant healthcare organizations regularly identify potential cyber risks during their required assessments.  

I understand these extra cyber security efforts can be an investment, but the cost of a security breach could cost you your business. According to a recent report from PwC, cyber security prevention averages $8 per patient record, while a breach costs more than $200 per patient record. hme

Rob Duryea is president of VGM Forbin. Reach him at