Healthcare Data Encryption – Protecting ePHI Security!


 

As the healthcare industry becomes increasingly dependent on electronic communication and record keeping, secure healthcare IT services are a critical concern that every business must understand. Among the various security methods used to protect electronic patient healthcare information (ePHI), healthcare IT consultants stress the importance of data encryption.


Although data encryption is not a required security measure according to HIPAA security and privacy regulations, all industry businesses and their associates should think about adding this to their security since data encryption provides an additional protective layer to standard managed IT services.


Encryption Prevents Data Breaches

Data breaches are one of the most damaging and costly security threats to today’s healthcare providers and their approved business associates. In the effort to keep all ePHI secure, providers must find appropriate ways to protect their data, including the utilization of dependable healthcare IT services.


While encryption is not necessary for all data transmissions made by healthcare businesses when transmission occurs to and from secure devices on closed networks, it is still important for a company to incorporate it into their managed IT services as additional protection when needed.


Encryption that scrambles sensitive data during transmission to an end user that must decrypt it is becoming one of the most important ways to maintain data security when transmission to and from external devices like phones, tablets, and laptops is necessary.


Vague HIPAA Regulations Concerning Data Encryption

While healthcare IT consultants understand that HIPAA regulations do not state specifically that data encryption must be used by providers and business associates, the verbiage concerning adding it to current IT services is somewhat vague. HIPAA regulations state that data encryption is “addressable” and that it is essentially up to an individual organization to decide if encryption is needed.


If implementing data encryption is a reasonable measure, then HIPAA endorses it. The downside is that organizations that should execute encryption and do not could be held accountable for security breaches that could have been prevented through implementation of encryption.


Use of Encryption on the Rise

Due to the amount of data that is stored and transferred plus the number of businesses and associates who have access to this information, IT consultants warn that ePHI is especially vulnerable to data breaches.


Based on this factor as well as the loose stance HIPAA is currently taking on the use of encryption to protect ePHI, more organizations are choosing to add encryption to their healthcare IT services. As a result of this demand, encryption technology to specifically serve this industry is on the rise, providing more options for healthcare businesses and their associates.


Although HIPAA does not require the use of data encryption as a part of current managed IT services, IT consultants strongly suggest taking this added measure. When used correctly, data encryption provides additional security in an industry that is at high risk for theft of ePHI and other sensitive data.


To ensure the most complete protection of all devices, adding data encryption to current IT services reduces the possibility of transmission interception no matter how unlikely this may be. It only takes one preventable breach to find yourself facing a serious HIPAA violation!