Healthcare Data Security Policy

Establishing a healthcare cybersecurity policy is important for multiple reasons. Cybersecurity policies create standards for your staff, enabling them to keep sensitive information private. HIPAA requires healthcare organizations to have policies and procedures that limit the use and disclosure of patient information, and to ensure that it is not accessed inappropriately.

How to Create Your Healthcare Data Security Policy

Cybersecurity policies provide guidance to your organization on implementing security controls and activities. When drafting healthcare cybersecurity policies, organizations must be aware of the mandates set forth by HIPAA

HIPAA requires healthcare organizations to implement technical, physical, and administrative safeguards to secure protected health information (PHI). The cybersecurity policies implemented by your healthcare organization must incorporate measures to secure PHI.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends ten cybersecurity practices that healthcare organizations should implement, including:

  1. Email protection systems
  2. Endpoint protection systems
  3. Access management
  4. Data protection and loss prevention
  5. Asset management
  6. Network management
  7. Vulnerability management
  8. Incident response
  9. Medical device security
  10. Cybersecurity policies

HIPAA and Security

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When healthcare organizations have cybersecurity policies, the risk of experiencing a data breach is mitigated. When creating your healthcare data security policy, you should include guidelines for implementing practices to meet all of the above-mentioned cybersecurity practices. 

Cybersecurity policies also facilitate the quick detection and response to incidents, limiting the scope of the breach. For your cybersecurity policies to be effective, employees must receive HIPAA and security training. Training ensures that all employees are aware of standard security procedures and how to respond to suspected breaches.

Lack of Cybersecurity Policies Led to Hefty Fine

SingHealth, based in Singapore, experienced a healthcare data breach that exposed the PHI of 1.5 million patients. Although they were aware of vulnerabilities in their server, they failed to implement cybersecurity policies to address the problem. 

SingHealth not only lacked basic protections for its server, it also failed to train employees on cybersecurity best practices. They also did not have an incident response plan in place, so the employees that detected the cyberthreat did not know who to report it to. 

They also failed to implement asset and network management, lacking access logs and multi-factor authentication (MFA). The incident may have been avoided or significantly reduced if SingHealth had written cybersecurity policies that employees were trained on.