Cybersecurity risk management can shield your practice from cybersecurity issues that plague the healthcare industry. Conducting cybersecurity assessments can be a useful protective measure that enhances risk mitigation efforts. There are several types that can benefit your practice. Becoming familiar with what these assessments should entail and how to execute them goes a long way toward building cyber resiliency and can reduce the chances of surprise incidents that often lead to crises.
Internal human error tops the list of most common causes of data breaches in healthcare, but malicious attacks are also prevalent. Verizon reports, “Miscellaneous errors, basic web application attacks, and system intrusion represent 86% of [data] breaches [in healthcare].” As threats like ransomware and other forms of hacking are present for practices of all specialties and sizes, cybersecurity assessments can help you understand how to amplify your practice’s protective measures against cyber threats.
Cybersecurity threats from criminals continue to make damage control essential. Verizon finds “financially motivated organized criminal groups continue to target this [healthcare] sector, with the deployment of ransomware being a favored tactic.” These types of attacks can be costly for organizations to recover from, often resulting in patient information being compromised. Assessments are important to diagnose potential exposure to these activities.
Types of Assessments for Achieving Compliance
You may be wondering which cybersecurity assessments would be most useful for your practice to conduct. While there are many types of assessments, it’s beneficial – and required for HIPAA compliance – to focus on the types that address the most prevalent cyber risks. HealthIT.gov states “The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule requires that covered entities and its business associates conduct a risk assessment of their healthcare organization.” This website also offers practices the Security Risk Assessment (SRA) Tool, which is designed to help practices like yours comply with security regulations.
Risk Analysis for Your Practice
The first type of assessment needed to comply with HIPAA requirements is the risk analysis. This form of assessment helps your organization analyze how secure protected health information (PHI) is within your organization and is an important part of identifying cyber vulnerabilities. HIPAA defines PHI as “any identifiable health information that is used, maintained, stored, or transmitted by a HIPAA-covered entity–a healthcare provider, health plan or health insurer, or a healthcare clearinghouse–or a business associate of a HIPAA-covered entity, in relation to the provision of healthcare or payment for healthcare services.” HHS.gov has identified the following questions that your practice can answer in upcoming risk analysis assessments:
- Have you identified the e-PHI within your organization? This includes e-PHI that you create, receive, maintain, or transmit.
- What are the external sources of e-PHI? For example, do vendors or consultants create, receive, maintain, or transmit e-PHI?
- What are the human, natural, and environmental threats to information systems that contain e-PHI?
Once your practice has identified potential PHI storage and transmission vulnerabilities, it can begin to address how it will respond to an incident should one occur.
Contingency planning prepares organizations to respond and stay in operation when an incident arises. According to HIPAA Journal, “Contingency plans should cover all types of emergencies, such as natural disasters, fires, vandalism, system failures, cyberattacks, and ransomware incidents. […] Contingency planning is not simply a best practice. It is a requirement of the HIPAA Security Rule.” HIPAA Journal identifies the following action items for contingency planning assessments:
- Develop and implement a data backup plan
- Develop a disaster recovery plan
- Develop an emergency mode operation plan
- Develop and implement procedures for testing and revision of contingency plans
- Perform an application and data criticality analysis
Making these adjustments can equip your practice to respond effectively in cybersecurity emergencies. It is essential to have these contingency plans in place to prevent incidents from becoming full-fledged crises.
The Importance of Vendor Risk Assessments
When your organization transmits data and documentation to vendors, it becomes especially important to secure these communications as much as is possible. Governing data and tracking its transmission are essential to protecting it. PwC states “businesses share data with service providers and subcontractors to improve service delivery and reduce costs. In the process, data changes ownership multiple times and documentation, often containing information directly identifying their business and customers, travels throughout the ecosystem.”
To prevent exposure to data breaches that might occur when data is transferred between your practice and its vendors, you can bring in an external organization to perform regular assessments of how vendors manage and process data and documentation. These evaluations can help mitigate cybersecurity risks to sensitive patient data with greater reach.
Enhancing Security and Compliance with Digital Payment and Automation Solutions
Whatever your specialty, digitizing payment submission in a secure way has become a necessary improvement for healthcare practices. Rectangle Health’s Practice Management Bridge® is a secure digital payment and automation platform that adds convenience and reduces administrative task volume. By digitizing and automating payment and communication tasks, practices gain time in their day to focus on giving care, and they benefit from the peace of mind that comes with knowing their data is secure. Our platform tokenizes stored payment information, rendering it unreadable to protect against data breaches.
With Rectangle Health, your POS systems will be safe from tampering, firewalls will be properly configured and installed, and system weaknesses will be detected. As an official Point-to-Point-Encryption-enabled service provider, Rectangle Health offers solutions that comply with PCI, HIPAA, and EMV requirements for security, in addition to offering fraud protection tools like address verification.
- HealthIT.gov. (2021, July 20). Security Risk Assessment Tool. HealthIT.gov. Retrieved 11/24/2021, from https://www.healthit.gov/topic/privacy-security-and-hipaa/security-risk-assessment-tool
- HHS.com. (2019, July 22). Guidance on Risk Analysis. HHS.com. Retrieved 11/24/2021, from https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/security/guidance/guidance-risk-analysis/index.html
- PwC. (n.d.) Mapping and managing cyber risks from third parties and beyond. PwC. Retrieved December 3, 2021, from https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/consulting/cybersecurity-risk-regulatory/library/third-party-risks.html