Protecting Patient Information: Avoiding Data Breach in Addiction Treatment Facilities

Medical data, specifically personal health information, including names, addresses, and social security numbers, drive a black market worth millions, potentially billions of dollars. The US Department of Health and Human Services confirms 50 significant data breaches already in 2018, and it is only March. Hackers gained access to more than 300,000 medical records via ransomware, unauthorized access/disclosure and theft or loss of equipment.

Establishing strict patient record protection policies in the addiction treatment setting is critical. Hackers show no preference for any particular size or specialty. Humana and Kaiser, both major US insurance companies, as well as small clinics and even hospice organizations, fell victim to these nefarious cyber-criminals.

What Can An Addiction Treatment Centers do to Protect Patient Records?

Recognizing The Threat is Real is The First Step

More than 25% of US consumers surveyed by Accenture in 2017 experienced a medical data loss. The average out-of-pocket cost per individual was $2,500. Research shows that low-income earners are at greater risk than people in higher brackets for becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. Treatment facilities must acknowledge their responsibility to protect against any factor that may hinder positive outcomes for the most vulnerable.

Focus on Recognizing and Avoiding Ransomware

Today, patients and their addiction treatment team access medical data and information in a variety of ways. Technology provides a highly effective communication path and records storage solution. Technology also exposes organizations to ransomware, a computer hacking strategy that encrypts your data, holding your files hostage until a ransom is paid. Hackers typically ask for cryptocurrency as payment since tracking transactions is almost impossible.

As part of your overall addiction center security strategy, inform staff about ransomware, which is responsible for 88% of data breaches across all industries. Understanding how to recognize and avoid this form of cyber-attack reduces risk potential. This scheme normally finds its way into a computer system via email. When a user clicks on a link, instantly the computer freezes and a warning pops up, demanding payment within a specific time period. Antivirus software is ineffective. However, preparing for an attack before it happens improves your chances of putting your clientele at risk.

Security experts recommend:

Deploying EHR technology designed to meet rigorous HIPAA and HITECH standards and prevent unauthorized access from edge to edge is critical for success. AZZLY®‘s addiction treatment software solutions are engineered for maximum protection against ransomware and other malicious cyber activities. Learn more about protecting patient privacy and personal data by contacting a representative today.

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