Cloud computing provides many advantages for healthcare businesses, including flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. However, one of the possible disadvantages of the cloud for healthcare is the need to adhere to HIPAA. By storing and managing health data in the cloud, patients’ personal medical data may become susceptible to cyber-attacks and represent a violation of the provisions of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which can result in thousands (or even millions) of fines.
Cloud Service Providers and HIPAA
In 2009, Congress grew the jurisdiction of HIPAA to trading partners. By law, any service provider with access to protected health information (PHI) of a covered entity is classified as a business partner (BA). BAs include cloud service providers and their subcontractors who create, receive, maintain or share PHI on their behalf. Along with extending the jurisdiction of HIPAA to trading partners, the government has also heightened the penalties imposed by this law. At first, the penalties were limited to $100 to $ 25,000. But from 2019, the penalties went up from 1$00 to $1.5 million dollars.
Steps Healthcare Bodies must take to protect their Customers’ Data in the Cloud
The responsibility to safeguard personal health information must be shared by all parties; the patient, the health facility and the cloud service provider. Indeed, if a breach occurred due to the imprudence of a single party, each party was impacted. There are some steps that healthcare organizations must take to complement the efforts of their cloud computing vendors to protect the data of their customers.
- Privacy and Security
Healthcare facilities must create, adopt and implement strict privacy and security policies and procedures. In addition, these institutions must record all their procedures and policies, including the steps to be taken in case of a breach. For health care groups, it is essential to have stronger security guards and appropriate procedures.
- Understanding of Vulnerability
Even the strongest systems are not 100% safe. It only takes one error or a minor oversight to impact one. As such, health groups should regularly review their exposure to cyber threats, even if they think that their systems are the safest and most secure ever developed, and make the necessary adjustments, if necessary.
- Email essentials
It is worthwhile to make an extra effort to encrypted patients’ data. Encryption not only allows additional data protection but also protects these organizations from remote investigations.
- Mobile Rules
Hospitals must have a definite policy on protecting health data on mobile devices, including mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. In addition, the policy must state how to manage new devices added to the network of the facility or current devices that are removed. These devices are susceptible to theft, which could result in personal health data falling into the wrong hands.
- Staff education
Although not all workers in a health facility are expected to have an in-depth knowledge of HIPAA guidelines, it is important for institutions to train their workers in the basic HIPAA guidelines. It has been proven time and time again that employees are the weak part of a company’s cybersecurity chain. Giving all employees with basic knowledge of cybersecurity protocols and HIPAA guidelines is a brilliant way to strengthen this link.
- Establishment of protocols for potential offenses
Finally, health groups must have a strong protocol to restore and strengthen the system after an effort is a register to try and infiltrate data security. Cybercriminals continue to improve their skills so that they can violate systems they were not able to start with. Groups should not have too much confidence in their data backups, as even the strongest security measures ever put in place could be canceled by hackers. Instead, they need to implement a well-thought-out protocol to make their systems even more airtight after an attempted offense or an actual offense.
While the responsibility for safeguarding personal health information is shared by the patient, the health facility, and the cloud service provider, the workload is the responsibility of the hospital and the cloud service. Despite this, a great many hospitals are not doing enough to boost the efforts of their cloud service providers. Bodies providing health care must take the above measures to assist their cloud providers in effectively secure their customers’ data.