Medical Records Security for Healthcare Providers

HIPAA Compliance Icon Graphic For Medical Document Security at Richards and RichardsA survey by Bitglass found that privacy breaches in the healthcare industry hit an all-time high in 2016. Why were there so many? Healthcare providers manage a vast amount of protected health information (PHI), and criminals want it. They can buy stolen medical records on the black market for as little as a couple of bucks. The stolen PHI is used to create fake identities that allow them to buy and sell medical equipment and pharmaceuticals and file false claims with health insurance providers. In this blog we offer a few tips for how to protect your practice.

Destroy Expired Medical Records

In-house disposal of PHI is risky business. Thieves often ransack healthcare providers’ dumpsters looking for confidential medical records. Don’t put your patients at risk. Use a secure shredding service to make sure PHI is destroyed promptly and securely. Security containers are strategically placed in your medical practice making the disposal of files and digital devices quick and safe. On a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly schedule, a screened shredding technician collects the contents of your containers and either destroys them onsite at your office or off-site at a shredding plant. Whichever option you choose, you receive a Certificate of Destruction at the end of each file shredding project.

Safeguard Patient Confidentiality

Every healthcare provider must store and retain PHI. Limiting the number of medical records you have onsite lowers the risk of medical identity theft. A medical records management service lets you store and manage medical files, patient charts and even X-rays securely and economically.

Your patient files are picked up, transferred to a HIPAA-compliant records center where they are indexed to your specifications. You are given access to advanced document management center software for continuous file tracking. Advanced document management center software offers a secure web link that allows you to:
• View medical records online
• Assign retention schedules
• Create customized reports

You have 24/7 access to your medical records inventory and authorized copies are made available to your patients at your request.

Backup and Protect

Ransomware poses a real threat to healthcare providers. Hackers install malicious software on a computer or server and hold data hostage until the victim pays a ransom. Imagine having patient files held hostage when you need to provide critical care. That’s why it’s important to backup and protect your data.

There are two ways to back up your data; offline to a local server or online to the cloud. Cloud backup simplifies things by eliminating manual backup processes, while offline backup offers an economical solution for archiving a large amount of data. When using an offline backup strategy, make sure to store your backup media in an offsite media vault to protect it from theft and disaster. Purpose-built for data protection, a media vault offers:

• Ceramic fiber walls to protect media from fire
• Waterless fire suppression
• 24-hour video surveillance
• Alarm monitoring systems

Environmental control sensors keep temperature and relative humidity at ideal levels for the long-term preservation of your media.

Destruction of your expired medical records, off-site storage and a solid backup and protection program will go a long way toward preventing breaches of your protected health information. Follow the details described in these tips to keep your PHI safe.

Richards & Richards provides medical records management solutions for Nashville healthcare providers. For more information, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.