The healthcare industry is continuously a target for cybercriminals, which is why it’s crucial for providers to really scrutinize all of their security efforts. As rapidly as healthcare technology advances so do cyber threats, and for each new implementation of healthcare technology devices and techniques, a cyber threat is not far behind. Healthcare IT professionals work hard to mitigate these threats and keep patient information safe and secure, but when personal devices are used in a healthcare setting it can create an even bigger problem.

The “BYOD” Trend

As healthcare industry staff struggle to keep up with the daily workload, they sometimes rely on their personal devices to help keep them connected with colleagues and patients. This “bring your own device” trend does help providers improve their efficiency, but it also creates a number of concerns and challenges for IT providers to grapple with. For example, a doctor could use his own smartphone to discuss a patient’s case with a colleague and then a few minutes later log into his Facebook account and message a family member to check in. Not only is it a huge HIPAA red flag, but it also creates a headache for IT professionals who are trying to improve care coordination while still keeping patient information secure.

Implementing BYOD-friendly Security Practices

One of the reasons that BYOD is such a common practice is because most healthcare facilities can’t afford to equip all of their staff members with their own laptops, tablets or other devices to use on the floor. Devices belonging to the facility are often shared, and availability varies based on how busy the facility is on any given day. By allowing staff to utilize devices they already own, they aren’t left waiting for a laptop or tablet to become available and can be more efficient at patient care.

Facilities that embrace the BYOD method have started to implement security practices to help protect private health information while still allowing personal devices access when needed. One way this is done is by setting up cloud-based data storage on a private network and establishing strict security protocols in order for mobile devices to gain access to that network. With this method, any staff member could log into the network and do what they need to do within that protected environment, then leave the network and go back to using their device for personal use. The user credentials can even be customized so that there are varying levels of security for different staff members. For example, a cafeteria worker could log into the network and only see a patient’s name, room number, dietary restrictions, and meal orders, while an accounting employee may have access only to the patient’s charges and financial information.

As mobile devices continue to gain popularity in the healthcare industry, it’s more important than ever for healthcare facilities to take a closer look at their current security practices, and if necessary, obtain cyber risk services that can help them address and better manage their exposures before it’s too late.

About Highland Risk Services

At Highland Risk, we use our expertise and experience to provide insurance information and programs to those who serve long-term care and senior living facilities. Since 2007, we’ve been offering insurance and risk management plans designed to help our agents give their clients the ability to achieve continued growth while simultaneously protecting against loss, containing costs and increasing profitability. With offices to serve you in Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona, we do everything we can to make your experience with us as professional and transparent as possible. To learn more, contact us at (877) 890-9301.