More recently, Wisconsin-based Forefront Dermatology admitted that the medical records and personal details of 2.4 million patients may have been exposed in an unauthorized breach of its networks.
Because healthcare providers are under pressure to ensure compliance with country-specific requirements, they’ve intensified their focus on healthcare data security. The increasing threat posed by hackers and cyber criminals only heightens the need for providers to think quickly—and, in some cases, radically—about their security and compliance practices.
The Appropriateness of Email
When it comes to shoring up healthcare data security and compliance, where should companies start? One of the first and most obvious answers is in the use of email for transmitting sensitive information.
Modern healthcare organizations share enormous amounts of confidential patient data, including patient referrals, consultation notes, medical imaging and video imaging. While much of this data may be held in relatively secure locations within one provider’s network, that same data is then shared across an extended network with other providers for patient evaluation, referrals, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, palliative care, and further diagnosis. All too often, that sharing occurs via email, or through generic file sharing platforms that don’t secure the document on its journey from the original location to a file sharing site. Every such transfer is vulnerable to interception by an increasingly active community of cyber criminals.
With all of this in mind, a growing number of Cocoon Data customers are continuing to use email for day-to-day communication, but with a clear policy that outlines where the use of email for file sharing is no longer sufficient. In these cases, providers are turning to Cocoon Data to share patient information between various medical practitioners, departments, and providers. These solutions only allow file access for nominated recipients, using data transfer technologies that secure the files at every step on the journey from sender to secure cloud. They also provide easy-to-interrogate audit trails, which show who has and hasn’t opened documents, when, and from which devices.
As simple as this change may sound, it can drastically reduce the chances of confidential patient information falling into the wrong hands.
Safety Meets Productivity
Sometimes innovation can drive productivity while increasing healthcare data security. In 2020 a major Australian public health network provider introduced Cocoon Data’s platform as the standard for exchanging periodic information across its network of healthcare providers.
In this implementation, information received from multiple providers is automatically captured via Cocoon Data’s API and then made available to the right team members throughout the network. Features such as access audit trails and watermarking discourage screen capture or taking photos of the screen. In the event of future breach concerns, these features will also make it easier to pinpoint where the leak may have occurred.
This innovative solution has not only dramatically increased healthcare data security and ease of access to critical information, but also enhanced collaboration and enabled closer relationships between providers and partners across the network.
Added Insurance in a Work-From-Home World
Now that COVID-19 has driven a massive shift to a work-from-home model, healthcare employers must somehow ensure healthcare data security and compliance with employees who may be working from home, from someone else’s home, or even from public locations such as cafes and libraries.
With the exceptionally sensitive nature of patient information in mind, Cocoon Data customers have turned to the platform’s in-built geofencing capabilities to reduce the likelihood of the data being accessed in an unauthorized location or on an unauthorized device.