Health information privacy and security is something of a rare case:

On the one hand, the provisions in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) clearly outlines protections and requirements concerning health care data, and with compliance requirements comes enforcement. Patients should feel confident about their providers’ ability to protect their sensitive health information.

But on the opposite front, ransomware attacks and data breaches continue to pose a threat to healthcare organizations. What’s more,  the rapid development of Big Data technologies could potentially create and expose gaps in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

These complex challenges are unique to the healthcare industry and create much speculation as to what we can expect from data privacy and security going into the new year.

Take a look at the top health information privacy and security concerns we’re predicting for 2019 and how you can combat them in your healthcare organization:

#1 – Patient Skepticism

Data hacks of recent years have revealed surmounting patient skepticism into the benefits of using health information technologies. They question whether patient portals, electronic medical records, and mobile apps offer the protections they should.

This level of doubt can severely impact an organization’s ability to implement digital strategies. With strong pushback from patients, digital adoption will either be delayed or eliminated, along with all the time- and money-saving benefits it offers both the organization and the patients it serves.

What’s more, the widespread use of digital technology within the organization could lead to patients questioning who they trust to provide them with medical care. Skepticism could mean a reduction in faith and trust in the organization, and it will be an uphill climb for organizations to prove how seriously they take security.

#2 – Fusing Medical Devices with IoT

The Internet of Things has invaded the healthcare industry in the form of wearable devices, apps, portals, and other connected medical devices. The goal is clear for organizations: to provide better, more comprehensive service to its patients.

However, the security and privacy issues associated with IoT-connected devices can be dramatic for both parties. Even a single security flaw, regardless of whether data was actually compromised, could land an organization in hot legal water and grow the already-present skepticism among patients.

Addressing these challenges begins with understanding the design of security measures. Knowing what data they collect, who can rightfully access it, and any vulnerabilities in the system are key in successful execution.

#3 – Maintaining a Security Culture

It is no longer the responsibility of the IT department to create and maintain a culture around data security. While IT is largely responsible for securing the healthcare network, it is also the equal responsibility for leaders, staff, and other stakeholders to understand their roles in protecting sensitive information.

Training in security measures should be directive for the employee roles receiving the training. It should be part of the daily workflow rather than a one-time classroom session. And the security culture must be flexible in adapting new technologies and procedures as they come along.

#4 – Scaling Smartly

As new technologies are adopted, a rush to implement them can often lead to an oversight of how technology interacts with existing systems. Solutions that focus solely on scaling your offerings or operations without regard to security should be avoided. Acquiring or consolidating departments or other companies require thorough planning and examination to leave no gaps in defense.

How to Mitigate Health Information Privacy and Security Concerns

Health information privacy and security concerns will only grow as technology evolves, and it requires companies to be proactive and diligent in their efforts to mitigate their risks.

Our consultants at Lifepoint are skilled in helping guide organizations through this very same process to help you identify and understand your risks and the appropriate steps to take to eliminate them. Contact us today to learn more about how our healthcare IT consultants can help you alleviate privacy and security concerns for 2019.