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The Important Role Of Information Security In Healthcare

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One of the most important aspects of healthcare is trust. Trust in one’s doctor, trust in one’s healthcare provider and trust that one’s sensitive health information is private and secure. This being the case, information security plays an extremely important role in healthcare and the healthcare system. Without information security, one’s private information could fall into the hands of those with nefarious intentions — such as hackers and cybercriminals.

Though advances in technology have brought with them many benefits — such as data-driven decision-making in healthcare — these technological advances have also made it easier for cybercriminals to hack into healthcare networks and get a hold of sensitive patient information. As such, information security has taken on a more central role in today’s healthcare industry.

What Is Information Security?

Information security can be described as the ways an organization goes about protecting and securing information. This can look different for different organizations, but it will typically involve a number of practices and protocols which help to keep information safe.

Information Security and Patient Confidentiality

Patient confidentiality is a significant aspect of information security in the healthcare industry. It is the duty of medical professionals — such as doctors — to keep patients’ information confidential. As such, some of the responsibility for information security falls on the shoulders of healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses.

Patient confidentiality aims to ensure that as a patient, one can trust their information will be kept private. As such, a patient’s information or data won’t be shared or tampered with. Legally, all healthcare institutions in the US must have systems and policies in place to ensure patient confidentiality — except for some rare cases in which sensitive patient information must be shared.

Though information security and patient confidentiality used to center around keeping physical documents private, this is no longer the case. Technological advancements have caused the information to become digitized. Though this offers a number of benefits — such as easier sharing of files when one switches healthcare providers — it has also brought with it new threats and new points of vulnerability.

The Importance of Cybersecurity in Information Security

The digitization of healthcare records has made a number of tasks and processes easier for both medical professionals and patients. Doctors can now share information with patients with the mere click of a button, a process that used to require a trip to a physical location to pick up physical documents. Though the digitization of medical records has made some processes easier, it has also brought with it new threats.

Cybercrime has become an increasingly insidious threat in the past few decades. As the digitization of records has become more common, so too has cybercrime that aims to take advantage of this. Cybercriminals are becoming savvier, and as such, cybersecurity is a valuable tool when it comes to keeping information secure.

For healthcare organizations, cybersecurity is one of the most powerful ways to keep patients’ confidential information secure and safe from cybercriminals who aim to use the information for nefarious purposes. Thankfully, physicians and healthcare organizations are beginning to invest more into cybersecurity resources to keep patient information safe.

In fact, healthcare organizations are now taking advantage of security risk assessment tools that can help uncover vulnerabilities in their networks. As a result, patient information is becoming safer and more secure as healthcare organizations are making a concerted effort to invest in cybersecurity and assess the risk of information security from a variety of angles.

Some useful tools to increase information security that doctors have begun to take advantage of are firewalls and encryption. Firewalls can help keep healthcare organizations safe while encryption can alter information to make it harder for hackers to access. As a result, physicians all across the country are taking steps to make patient information more secure and bolster trust among their patients.

Raising Awareness

An important part of making patient information more secure is by spreading awareness of the looming threat of cybercriminals. This goes for both patients and medical professionals, as each can have a significant effect on information security.

For patients, it can be important to understand the risks of digitized healthcare documents. Though it can make some processes easier — such as the transfer of documents — it can also raise the risk of information being accessed by cybercriminals.

For medical professionals, understanding the risks around information security can help promote safer habits. Without this awareness, some medical professionals may be less safe with the private records of patients, and as a result, make patients vulnerable to cyber criminals gaining access to their personal information.

Ensuring the Safety of Patient Information in Healthcare Settings

Though it can be a scary thought to think that there are cyber criminals out there looking to gain access to private health records, patients can rest assured that medical professionals and healthcare organizations are taking steps to ensure information security. Through investment in cybersecurity and an awareness of the problem, patient information is becoming more secure and more difficult for cybercriminals to access.

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