How to Store Data Securely As A Medical Practice

If you work at a medical practice which has a high volume of sensitive information passing through your system on a daily basis, it’s important to learn how to store data securely. Addresses, medical history and other personal info can all be attained if a breach in your system occurs.

When considering how to secure data, some of the key steps to bear in mind include:

  1. Training staff on how to stay vigilant and in control
  2. Implementing the use of a PWAN to protect yourself
  3. Bringing in physical security measures
  4. Removing any outdated or unrequired data from your system
  5. Having a disaster recovery plan in place

By following these all-important five steps, you should be able to successfully prevent the patient data you store from being released to the wider world. Let’s run through every step in greater detail and see just how much of a positive impact they can have on the prevention of important information being leaked.

 

1. Training staff

You could have an inch-perfect plan in place to prevent records from leaking – but if your staff haven’t been trained how to store data securely, you’ll soon find it will all count for very little.

As recently as April 2017, someone on work experience in an Aberdeen practice leaked a series of personal email addresses by mistake. While this instance didn’t specifically see a member of staff cause the issue, it highlights just how easy it is to allow delicate data to be spread without adequate training.

As such, it’s critical to give staff at medical practices as much training as possible. This includes:

  • How to appropriately deal with requests for information from patients
  • Using password protection for every aspect of data management
  • Locking computers when away from them, and shutting them down properly
  • Understanding what types of emails might be spam or viruses, looking to access data illegally

By giving staff as much information on the matter as possible, you’re massively reducing the risk of valuable information being leaked. Make sure to provide staff as much knowledge of the subject as possible.

 

2. Using a PWAN

A private wide area network (PWAN) works by providing a wide-reaching internet service, whilst at the same time ensuring it’s encrypted in such a way that only a select few have access to it.

A PWAN system is particularly useful when it comes to protecting data for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Heightened security – With a PWAN, practices can communicate between each other, without needing to use VPNs. This means there’s no need for a data stream to ever pass publically across the net.
  • Reduced hacking ability – Dial through fraud is commonly employed by hackers to try and access important information. A PWAN cuts out the chance of this happening altogether.
  • One storage point – A multi-site environment means everything is stored in one central locale. This makes the chances of data getting lost or misplaced considerably slimmer.

To make the chances of a data breach as low as possible, your practice would be wise to bring in a PWAN telephony solution. Don’t run the risk without one.

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3. Physical security measures

It might surprise some to hear, but a number of businesses and medical practices will still store a lot of their data on hardcopies. If you’re one such organisation, you’d be wise to ensure you use physical security controls to prevent a calamity.

This means anything from a safe with a passcode, to the simple matter of ensuring all doors and filing cabinets are locked prior to leaving medical records unattended. To go the extra mile, you can even use cable locks to attach your laptops and desktops to furniture.

It’s easy to overlook basic data storage methods like this, but the reality is they can have just as much of an impact on success rates as more complex preventative measures. Forgetting the simple things can prove just as much of a detriment as anything else.

 

4. Removing unnecessary data

When you think about it logically, the more data you store, the higher the chances of some precious information being lost. In a lot of cases, the data you’re hanging onto probably doesn’t serve much of a purpose.

Go through what you do and don’t need to determine what you can afford to get rid of. The best means of doing this is by introducing an auditing process which keeps a constant track of what info is being stored and what’s outdated.

Aside from making itself a potential target, this unnecessary data also clutters up your limited memory banks. Don’t use up precious space with information which only serves a potentially hazardous purpose, not a positive one.

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5. Disaster recovery plan

If all else fails, you can always rely on instigating a disaster recovery plan. Losing data is obviously a nightmare, so ensure you avoid this scenario by either backing everything up or having a way of recovering what’s been lost.

This doesn’t just apply in chaotic situations where everything has been lost, but also when any type of technical difficulties are faced by your practice. Having a process in place which deals with this type of dilemma is a must in the current technological world.

Aside from guaranteeing the safe storage of data, a disaster recovery plan will also:

  • Provide back-up power – This age-old problem can be negated with the use of an uninterruptable power supply. This will be able to keep you powered for hours, even without the main source running.
  • Specialist technical support – Receive round-the-clock technical support to ensure all problems which rise are dealt with immediately.
  • Call handling – A virtual number will be generated, which allows for a practice to divert all their calls to if their primary system is down. An auto attendant can even be put in place to give the caller the choice of who they want to talk to.

 
If you’re concerned about how to store data securely, these five helpful tips will provide you with an answer. Follow them closely and discover how much safer you can keep your sensitive medical records in the future.

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