Why having a privacy monitoring solution matters

If you’re an average size healthcare organization, the amount of EMR access happening in your network, per day, can top 2.5 million. That can be hard to fathom at first, but it makes sense. Doctors are checking medical history for patients before prescribing medicine, billing is looking at charts to code the right procedures to insurance companies, an ER nurse is checking a patient’s allergies to diagnose a reaction to medicine, and the list goes on and on. All of these accesses are critical — some even a matter of life and death — but all carry with them a risk.

Patient data is a prize for hackers

Healthcare data is valuable on the black market because it often contains all of an individual’s personally identifiable information, as opposed to a single piece of information that may be found in a financial breach. Often these attacks see hundreds of thousands of patients’ data and privacy compromised or stolen by those with malicious intent. According to a Trustwave report, a healthcare data record may be valued at up to $250 per record on the black market, compared to $5.40 for the next highest value record (a payment card). In addition, the amount of internal users accessing data leaves these critical assets open to insider threats – from accidental breaches to malicious incidents – not to mention the strict HIPAA regulations a healthcare organization must follow.

What is a patient privacy monitoring solution?

This kind of solution monitors those millions of daily accesses to EMR records. Access monitoring is especially important for these kinds of accesses because access controls – like access approvals or timed access – aren’t feasible given the urgency and frequency of EMR record accesses. Depending on the solution, capabilities include monitoring and auditing internal accesses, flagging any inappropriate access for immediate review and resolution.

What are the benefits of a privacy monitoring solution?

Save time and resources through automatic auditing

Manually reviewing accesses is both tedious and unrealistic, especially when dealing with a large healthcare organization. Even combing through after a suspicious access can be daunting, not to mention auditing and organizing accesses for HIPAA compliance. It’s frankly not possible and leaves an organization open to risk. By implementing a privacy monitoring software solution, especially one that uses machine learning, an organization can save endless time, resources, and money.

Get real-time updates on suspicious activity

How do you know if and when a suspicious access is happening is an important question a healthcare organization needs to be able to answer. A privacy monitoring solution will know which accesses are routine, be able to detect unusual behavior by a user, and can alert the right departments in real time. This can help stop a breach before it even occurs.

Stay HIPAA compliant

While compliance requirements may vary depending on the organization, HIPAA is the standard for all healthcare organizations, so it’s a good example of how a software solution can keep an organization compliant. Compromised protected personal data resulted in 1.8 HIPAA privacy violations per day in 2020, so the risk of a violation remains high. A software solution can automatically compile the reports you need for a compliance officer, as well as record and log accesses for those reports.

Reduce false positives

There are currently two kinds of privacy monitoring solutions available, those that employ a rules-based system, and those that utilize machine learning. The latter can help reduce false positives, as the solution can learn to understand if there was an appropriate reason for access and if it finds one, it won't generate an alert for that record access. However, a rules-based approach will generate an alert every time a “rule criteria” is met.

What are the risks of not utilizing a privacy monitoring solution?

Compliance fees and fines

To put it frankly, the cost of a HIPAA violation is high. Like millions of dollars, high. With minimums of $50,000 and fines reaching $1.5 million, it’s not an expense any organization wants to take on. Save money by staying compliant.

Insider threats

If you don’t know which users are accessing what, then you don’t know if those accesses are even above board. Insider threats – whether accidental or malicious – can wreak havoc on a system, costing time, money, and patient care.

Data breaches and ransomware

The average cost of a healthcare breach in 2021 was $9.42 million dollars. That’s not even taking into consideration the real world cost. In the age of COVID-19, where healthcare organizations are stretched thin and patients’ lives are in their hands, the result of systems being shut down due to a breach, or worse, a ransomware attack, could literally be deadly.

Invest in privacy monitoring now to save later

The route is clear. A patient privacy monitoring solution is the best way to keep your healthcare organization safe from mounting cybersecurity threats. If you want to better understand compliance requirements or how your organization measures up when it comes to protecting patient data, our checklists are here to help. SecureLink Privacy Monitor is a strong solution that utilizes machine learning and helps with drug diversion programs. Learn more about software solutions on our platform page.