As more and more healthcare organizations digitize patient records, the risk for a data breach grows. In recent years, hackers have exposed the personal information of millions of people, and these breaches have occurred across industries, including the healthcare field. In June 2018, Canada-based home care services provider CarePartners announced an unusual data breach in which hackers stole the medical and personal records of 80,000 patients, then held the stolen records for ransom.
Data security is an important part of risk management, not only for home healthcare organizations, but also for any business or organization that utilizes computerized records. Cyber security considerations are paramount in reducing risks, as is the role of cyber liability insurance in protecting organizational assets from legal claims.
Data Security in Healthcare Operations
Personal information is collected by many business operations. In the healthcare field, a patient’s medical records often contain sensitive personally-identifying information, including physical addresses, telephone numbers, credit card details, and detailed medical histories. It is critical that organizations protect this sensitive information against illicit release, particularly from criminals that can use the information for fraudulent purposes. Robust data security protocols are vital, and organizations must implement new technologies at a rapid pace to stay abreast of criminal activities.
The concept of healthcare interoperability has increased the risk of data breaches. Organizations may send data across IT systems in order to facilitate billing, patient care, and tracking purposes. During data transmission, records are at risk of being intercepted by illegal operators, necessitating security measures end-to-end to prevent unlawful intrusion and collection of these records. While there are many regulatory requirements regarding data security, including provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), breaches continue to occur at an alarming rate.
IT professionals working in the healthcare field must take into account several aspects of data security, including:
- Understanding where data is stored and how it is transmitted between IT systems.
- Ensuring security compliance between systems.
- Regular updating of security measures, including both hardware and software security solutions.
- Focusing on employee training, especially in emerging security risks.
- Evaluating data collection and transmission devices for performance, security, and data integrity.
Data security is a complicated field of its own, with numerous challenges for IT professionals to overcome. Add in the need for interoperability between systems and IT professionals are faced with daunting tasks as they implement security measures that both protect data as well as facilitate its transmission between organizations.
Cyber Liability Insurance
As a risk management tool, liability insurance is an important piece of the puzzle. Cyber liability insurance is a somewhat recent development in the insurance industry, and it is designed to provide coverage against the losses associated with legal claims. This insurance helps to protect the assets and employees of any organization that relies on digital records. Cyber liability insurance plans typically offer both first- and third-party coverage. First-party coverage provides financial compensation for costs associated with investigating data intrusion, affected party credit monitoring services, business interruption expenses, and crisis management strategies. Third-party coverage focuses on financial compensation against legal claims of negligence, copyright infringement, and the legal fees and settlement payments associated with lawsuits.
Data breaches can negatively impact a healthcare organization’s ability to deliver patient care. With the right insurance policy in place, healthcare organizations can protect their assets as well as their employees and staff from the losses associated with emerging computer-based risks. Cyber liability insurance represents a valuable and formidable weapon in risk management.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan is a premier wholesaler providing insurance products for the home healthcare sector, which includes companies that provide healthcare services in patients’ private residences, assisted living or independent living facilities. For more information call us at (317) 575-4440.