As healthcare practices support a remote workforce and integrate additional technology, cybersecurity is increasingly critical. Cyberthreats continue to grow exponentially, and cyber-attacks are costly. They drain financial resources, disrupt practice productivity, endanger patient privacy, and compromise care quality. According to the HIPAA Journal, healthcare data breaches cost approximately $408 per record, and millions of records are breached per year. Protect your patient data, practice productivity, and financial health by applying the cybersecurity best practices for healthcare practices that follow.
Small and Mid-Sized Clinics May Face Greater Risk for Cybersecurity Threats
When it comes to cyberattacks, bigger isn’t necessarily better. It is quite uncommon for small-to-mid-sized healthcare practices to have a single IT specialist in-house, let alone a dedicated data security team. This may expose smaller healthcare organizations to threats a major hospital or health system’s dedicated resources would catch.
5 Best Practices to Keep your Practice Safe
- Keep your systems updated: Keeping all systems your clinic uses up-to-date is a simple-yet-powerful way to protect your practice. These updates protect against vulnerabilities in several ways; they fix bugs, remove outdated features taking up valuable space, patch security holes, and stabilize or enhance system performance. Make it a priority to ensure your systems are always up-to-date.
- Use strong passwords: Educate your team on setting secure passwords for all IT systems, components, and user accounts. Passwords are a critical line of defense against hackers—and you want them to be as fortified as possible. Strategies for strong passwords include two-factor authentication, complex and difficult-to-guess character combinations, and regular password refreshes. Finally, don’t forget to change super-user passwords from their defaults to more robust passwords.
- Train staff to combat common phishing attempts: Phishing—a social engineering strategy used to steal data—is a standard tool in a cybercriminal’s belt. It can take various forms, including email, text, and social media messaging, so be sure that your staff knows how to spot and avoid the bait no matter the format. Education should include examples of typical phishing attempts, encourage a “zero-trust” model, and deploy practice tests to see how well staff are noting and reporting phishing attempts. Get more phishing prevention and protection tactics.
- Perform regular data backups: Data backups are the gold standard for maintaining a secure archive of important practice records. By regularly backing up data (regular = at least twice per year), you won’t have to worry about losing important information as a casualty of a security breach. Keep your server and data backups secure in a separate location from the original source to help reduce downtime and negative impact in the event of a breach or technology malfunction.
- Partner with a cybersecurity expert: Even smaller healthcare practices have sophisticated IT systems. The best way for you to take control of cybersecurity is to engage with a dedicated resource that can build a right-sized, compliant, and robust security solution for your clinic’s specific needs and niches. It is much less costly to engage proactive support and be prepared than to scramble in disaster recovery mode after a data breach or other cyberattack disrupts your practice.
Start Fortifying Your Cybersecurity Defenses
Like all great healthcare providers, your focus is on healing your patients and keeping your community well. Rather than diverting precious energy and limited resources from patient care to put out IT security fires, set up a strong fortress against cyberattacks that will allow you to keep your attention on what matters most. With viruses, malware, and hackers increasingly targeting healthcare organizations, there is no time to waste. Apply these cybersecurity best practices and work with an expert IT partner to ensure your small or mid-sized clinic is ready.