Data leaks in NHS hospital trusts have doubled from 2020–2021, according to an analysis reported in the i this week.
A job in healthcare requires an individual to complete an array of administrative-based tasks, ensuring patients‘ personal information remains organised, factually correct and, most importantly, confidential.
Healthcare workers are also required to handle patient data manually, which can lead to burnout and increased stress levels and result in mistakes or the loss or misplacement of important information.
Mark Fewster, chief product officer at Radar Healthcare, believes implementing certain software and technologies can help combat the risk of data leaks in the future.
‘Healthcare organisations must implement adequate security measures to protect data from cybercriminals and patient data from increasing threats. Vulnerable wireless networks, weak passwords and irregular risk assessments are all things that can lead to poor protection. It is very important that healthcare organisations ensure patient information is safe to optimise care delivery.’
‘Easy to use, paperless methods can be implemented in the workplace, helping to improve organisation, reduce the number of hours completing admin and the risks of data being lost or misused. Patients with private and confidential information stored about themselves need to feel reassured that this data is completely secure- and this comes down to how the information is stored.’
Top tips to ensure patient data is fully protected
Use cloud software
Cloud software is a great way to safely store patient data, like how mobile phone users will store their pictures, files and other personal information on a device. Data in the cloud can be continually saved and backed up in a remote drive in case it is lost, stolen, or a technological error occurs.
Cloud-based computing gives users – in this case, healthcare workers, access to software applications that run on shared computing resources via the internet.
Implementing cloud software within a large company will help to reduce the stress of keeping on top of important patient health data and records and ensure it is automatically integrated into relevant platforms to help provide a more robust profile of a patient‘s care journey.
Ensuring device security
Whatever type of device a healthcare worker may use within their day-to-day role, it is important to ensure they are managed with high security, which means monitoring several aspects.
- Managing settings and configurations.
- Ensuring they can be remotely wiped or locked in case of theft and/or loss
- Enforcing the use of strong passwords
- Encrypting application data
- Monitoring email accounts and any attachments to prevent unauthorised data exfiltration or malware infections
Implement risk management software
Risk management software will allow organisations to identify, track and manage issues that could threaten their business model, and prevent them from delivering high-quality patient care.
The software used in healthcare settings should be flexible to any risk and compliance changes an organisation may need to consider, helping provide comprehensive risk management solutions at all times.
Having this will also help an organisation manage its regulatory compliance by enabling them to easily manage, track and share all electronic documents while ensuring all staff have access to the correct documents and policies in any location.
Log and monitor all access use
Tracking all access and usage of data is also very important, as this will allow providers to monitor which workers are accessing what information or applications and from where.
Logging this has proven to be most valuable for auditing purposes, helping organisations to identify areas of concern and strengthen security measures if necessary.
Generally, if an incident occurs, whether it be a data breach or loss of information, having an audit trail can help investigators pinpoint precise entry points, determine the cause and how to find the solution.
Learning from when things go wrong
Learning, apologising and explaining what went wrong to a patient is a crucial first step for recovery.
In any organisation, errors are made, and it is important to be open and honest about these errors to learn from them and ensure they do not happen again.
When healthcare workers communicate with patients, being honest is an important way to build trust and show respect for the patient.
It is also beneficial for the organisation to improve internal practices and continue running as efficiently as possible.