Remote working has gained popularity in recent years due to the rise in the availability of technology. This, coupled with factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the regulations implemented to contain the spread of the virus, has caused the surge in remote working. Moreover, certain industries have long adopted the practice of outsourcing some duties away from the company offices.
While this working model has many benefits, it also faces significant challenges, the main one being cybercrimes. Hackers are targeting remote workers since there’s a high chance that they’re not protected. Various industries have been victims of such attacks. The health care industry, in particular, holds valuable data that can be lucrative to hackers, which has made it a prime target for attacks.
To curb data breaches and other security threats, the government passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to set standards for data protection of health records. All workers who access health records are therefore required to meet the HIPAA requirements at all times.
Here are some of the practices that can help workers be HIPAA compliant:
Be Keen When Sharing Records
Health records are often shared between multiple people both on-site and those working remotely. Most of the time, workers may not fully concentrate on who they’re sharing the records with because of their busy schedules. So, there are chances that an attacker can request a particular data and successfully obtain it.
So, every remote worker should be keen on who they’re sharing the data with. They must conduct a clear background check on who needs the data and why they need it. They can also cross-check with their supervisors before sharing any information. This practice also applies to your colleagues as they may pose an internal threat.
Use Encryption And Passwords
The password problem is a significant concern facing many users in the world today. This refers to the issue of people using simple passwords to protect their devices. Unfortunately, malicious individuals can easily decipher these passwords, granting them access to digital health records. As such, important health records can be stolen or altered, and these will generally affect the patient and the organization.
Therefore, any remote worker needs to ensure that their devices, such as wireless routers, are encrypted and protected by complex passwords. These passwords form an entry point for hackers, hence the need for workers to make it as hard as possible for attackers to figure out their passwords.
Properly File and Dispose Of Hard Copies
It’s common for some health records to be stored in paper form. Sometimes, these records need to be printed out and shared manually instead of through digital platforms. After you’re done with these records, you may forget about them and leave them just lying around. This seemingly innocent incident can allow unauthorized people to access these records, violating the patient’s privacy.
To avoid this potentially harmful event from happening, there must be a proper way for workers to store any paperwork with sensitive information. They can file them and lock them up in a cabinet or in a private place that only they can access. Additionally, they should destroy any record printed out that’s no longer need through shredding. By destroying the records, they maintain privacy and become HIPAA compliant.
Be Vigilant Against Attacks
Another problem facing remote workers is the increase in phishing attacks targeted at them. These attacks are carried out through emails where workers are asked to click a link that contains the malware. As a result, they unknowingly grant entry to the attacker. However, it’s usually hard for them to notice it because the message may look like a regular email.
To help curb such attacks, an organization needs to train workers to boost security. Once the staff is more vigilant of such attacks, they can protect the health records they’re keeping.
Log Off From Computers
When working remotely, workers may unknowingly leave the programs containing health records running. Even though family and friends may not pose a significant threat, you shouldn’t let them access these records. Remember, HIPAA regulations prohibit you from sharing patient data with anyone who shouldn’t have them.
So, to ensure you comply with these requirements, you should always log off from any program with patients’ records. Also, turn off your computer screen when not it’s not in use or when people are around to avoid peeping.
Health records are valuable to both the patients and the organization they entrusted them to. Therefore, they should be protected at all costs to ensure privacy and accountability, as mandated by the HIPAA. This act sets a national standard for all people to observe.
Remote workers should comply with these regulations and work towards achieving them every day. The practices are simple, and anyone can do it, but it goes a long way in ensuring patient security.