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Healthcare Cybersecurity and Training: What You Need to Know

Heather Mueller
June 8, 2021
|
Min Read

Healthcare data security is a serious business.

In 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued more financial penalties than in any other year since the office was given authority to enforce Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance. More than $13 million in HIPAA violation settlements was collected, including the second-largest settlement in the department’s history. 

In other words…

Healthcare cybersecurity needs to be taken very seriously.

While some HIPAA requirements were relaxed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations still face risks related to hefty fines and potential jail time—not to mention irreparable damage to reputations. The total cost of a healthcare data breach is now $7.13 million, nearly double the average across industries.

Of course, any business that collects and transmits electronic protected health information (ePHI) knows how important it is to remain HIPAA compliant. But unfortunately, gaps in healthcare security training can lead to unintended errors.

While employees are increasingly using personal devices for work, 45% of them haven't received any new security training. As a result, many organizations face mounting concerns about the potential for dangerous downloads and data leakage. More than half of surveyed IT professionals recently named endpoint security as their #1 challenge. And according to one recent assessment from RiskIQ, a new vulnerability is discovered every 24 minutes.

The question to ask now is: 

What should you do to protect sensitive patient data everywhere it’s accessed and stored?

Essential steps for better healthcare cybersecurity.

If it’s been awhile since you stopped to evaluate the current health of your security environment, now's the time. But you may be wondering where to start. Based on Formstack’s experiences with dozens of healthcare organizations, here’s what our healthcare cybersecurity specialists recommend:

Don’t stop innovating.

New technologies and solutions are an important part of healthcare innovation. The latest advancements in healthcare technology can be used to build out curbside check-ins, streamline patient onboarding, and speed up registrations.  

However, you do need to be certain any new software you select meets HIPAA regulations. Carefully vet vendors for critical healthcare data security features such as secure data collection and document generation, as well as advanced data encryption, user-level permissions, and audit logging.

Continue healthcare security trainings.

And most importantly, be sure to invest in adequate healthcare security training to ensure staff know how to use tools correctly and compliantly. Even something as seemingly simple as teaching staff how to create strong passwords can go a long way in preventing breaches. And if you employ off-site staff or contractors who work off-site, taking extra steps to secure remote healthcare workers will be crucial.

It may seem like an overwhelming prospect at the outset, but with the right solutions and support in place you can rest assured your data is being actively protected from the latest threats. Just don’t wait. Every day you delay putting healthcare cybersecurity measures in place, the risk of a data breach increases. 

To understand just how important it is to have the right software in place, consider what happened at AdventHealth. For months, the hospital system relied on a solution employees believed to be secure. But when a zero-day vulnerability was exploited and patient data was put at risk, the team realized they’d need to put a lot more thought into which vendors they selected.


Looking for more inspiration to inform healthcare security training at your organization? Read the full AdventHealth success story to see how an exposed vulnerability served as the wake-up call the hospital system needed to find the right HIPAA-compliant software.

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Heather Mueller
Heather is a website copywriter and digital content strategist who loves helping brands generate leads through the power of the written word—especially when using Formstack. Connect with Heather on Twitter @heathermueller.
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