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6 EHR Security Measures That Make a Difference

3 Minute Read

We see it in the news all too often: A major healthcare provider falls prey to a data breach. Personal health information, including medical records, treatment plans, and demographic details, end up in the wrong hands. The aftermath is chaotic, patients feel violated, and the clinic's reputation is tarnished.

Every time it happens, it's a stark reminder of the urgent need for fortified electronic health record (EHR) security measures.

No one wants their healthcare organization to be the victim of a cyber security breach. But cyberattacks in the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) sector are becoming more prevalent — and more severe. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that the number of cyberattacks on hospitals and health systems more than tripled between 2016 and 2021.

Thankfully, there are things you can do. Your organization can prevent cyberattacks with a reinforced EHR system that has robust security measures. We highly recommend the following safeguards — they’ll help prevent any type of breach and protect your patient data from falling prey to cyber threats.

Protect Your EHR With These Security Measures

Implement Two-Step Authentication

Want an extra layer of security for your EHR? Implement two-step (also known as multi-factor) authentication, which requires users to provide two forms of verification before accessing the EHR system. For example, they may have to enter a password first, then verify their identity through a second method, such as a code sent to a mobile device. 

Why do this? By implementing two-step authentication, clinics can lower the risk of unauthorized EHR access, even if login credentials are compromised. In addition, two-step authentication can act as an early detection system should login information be compromised.

Use Role-Based Access Permissions

Role-based access permissions allow employees access strictly to the information necessary for their job responsibilities and nothing more, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized data breaches. 

Why do this? When you define roles and customize access permissions accordingly, you’re proactively making sure protected health information stays secure.

With health information technology that includes role-based permissions to control access, an employee can only access patient data that's relevant to their responsibilities

Specify Password Requirements

How strong are your electronic health record users’ passwords? Having stronger passwords with increased complexity makes user accounts more resistant to hacking attempts. Ensure that your EHR system requires passwords to meet specific complexity criteria, such as:

  • A minimum length
  • Use of both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters
  • Age and history requirements to prevent users from reusing old passwords or changing passwords too frequently

Why do this? When you enforce detailed password requirements, you make it harder for intruders to get in. This improves user account security and mitigates the risk of unauthorized access.

Detailed password requirements when signing into an EHR, as shown here, is another EHR security measure that supports the HIPAA security rule

Lock Users Out After Incorrect Entries

It's a smart idea to implement a feature in your EHR system that automatically locks users out after so many incorrect password entries. This proactive measure helps prevent unauthorized access attempts and reduces the risk of brute-force attacks. 

Why do this? Don’t give hackers unlimited password attempts. By setting thresholds for incorrect password inputs, you automatically bolster the security of your EHR system.

Conduct Regular Security Audits

What’s the purpose of security audits? They identify vulnerabilities and ensure compliance with industry regulations. Typically, audits involve:

  • Assessing access logs
  • Reviewing user activity
  • Identifying any unusual patterns or unauthorized access attempts

Why do this? Stop the problem before it ever has a chance to occur. By conducting periodic security audits, your behavioral health clinic can identify and address potential security risks before they escalate into major patient data breaches.

Administrative safeguards like a security audit, as performed here, can help identify any risks before security breaches occur

Review Audit Logs for Comprehensive Oversight

Knowledge is power. When you use audit logs within your EHR system to monitor and track user activity, you get a comprehensive overview of who has viewed, saved, exported, printed, or deleted patient records. Use these logs to spot any suspicious or unauthorized actions so you can take action quickly, if needed.

Why do this? When you take a proactive approach to monitoring user activity, you have more transparency, accountability, and overall security within your EHR system.

Keep Your Organization’s Sensitive Patient Data Safe

News will break of another cyberattack on a healthcare organization — it’s inevitable. When it does, it's a sobering reminder of the importance of fortified EHR security measures. This is not something to take lightly. Instead, take a proactive approach so it never happens to you. Use the security measures above to mitigate the risk of data breaches, safeguard patient confidentiality, and protect your organization.

At ClinicTracker, we believe that the HIPAA compliant security of your electronic health records is about more than simply safeguarding patient information. It protects the people you serve. Contact us today to learn how our EHR system helps behavioral healthcare organizations stay secure.