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Innovation and Secure File Sharing in Healthcare Data Security Best Practices

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Healthcare data security is a growing, global issue. In June 2021, Australia’s largest state health body, New South Wales Health, made headlines after the state government advised patients that their personal information may have been accessed as part of the Accellion global cyber-attack. Just one month earlier, computer systems belonging to the Waikato Health District Board (DHB) in New Zealand were impacted by a ransomware attack. A few weeks later, the media reported the release of patient medical records and financial data to the dark web.

More recently, Wisconsin-based Forefront Dermatology admitted that the medical records and personal details of 2.4 million patients may have been exposed in an unauthorized breach of its networks.

Because healthcare providers are under pressure to ensure compliance with country-specific requirements, they’ve intensified their focus on healthcare data security. The increasing threat posed by hackers and cyber criminals only heightens the need for providers to think quickly—and, in some cases, radically—about their security and compliance practices.

The Appropriateness of Email

When it comes to shoring up healthcare data security and compliance, where should companies start? One of the first and most obvious answers is in the use of email for transmitting sensitive information.

Modern healthcare organizations share enormous amounts of confidential patient data, including patient referrals, consultation notes, medical imaging and video imaging. While much of this data may be held in relatively secure locations within one provider’s network, that same data is then shared across an extended network with other providers for patient evaluation, referrals, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, palliative care, and further diagnosis. All too often, that sharing occurs via email, or through generic file sharing platforms that don’t secure the document on its journey from the original location to a file sharing site. Every such transfer is vulnerable to interception by an increasingly active community of cyber criminals.

With all of this in mind, a growing number of Cocoon Data customers are continuing to use email for day-to-day communication, but with a clear policy that outlines where the use of email for file sharing is no longer sufficient. In these cases, providers are turning to Cocoon Data  to share patient information between various medical practitioners, departments, and providers. These solutions only allow file access for nominated recipients, using data transfer technologies that secure the files at every step on the journey from sender to secure cloud. They also provide easy-to-interrogate audit trails, which show who has and hasn’t opened documents, when, and from which devices.

As simple as this change may sound, it can drastically reduce the chances of confidential patient information falling into the wrong hands.

Safety Meets Productivity

Sometimes innovation can drive productivity while increasing healthcare data security. In 2020 a major Australian public health network provider introduced Cocoon Data’s platform as the standard for exchanging periodic information across its network of healthcare providers.

In this implementation, information received from multiple providers is automatically captured via Cocoon Data’s API and then made available to the right team members throughout the network. Features such as access audit trails and watermarking discourage screen capture or taking photos of the screen. In the event of future breach concerns, these features will also make it easier to pinpoint where the leak may have occurred.

This innovative solution has not only dramatically increased healthcare data security and ease of access to critical information, but also enhanced collaboration and enabled closer relationships between providers and partners across the network.

Added Insurance in a Work-From-Home World

Now that COVID-19 has driven a massive shift to a work-from-home model, healthcare employers must somehow ensure healthcare data security and compliance with employees who may be working from home, from someone else’s home, or even from public locations such as cafes and libraries.

With the exceptionally sensitive nature of patient information in mind, Cocoon Data customers have turned to the platform’s in-built geofencing capabilities to reduce the likelihood of the data being accessed in an unauthorized location or on an unauthorized device.

In this case, geofencing—which restricts access to nominated files based on a user’s location—helps ensure that staff members can only open certain files in approved spaces, such as nominated offices or their homes. All other attempts are blocked and recorded, so that supervisors can identify requirements for additional compliance training across a huge staff community.

Strengthened Security: in Summary

Beyond the three use cases outlined above, there is much more organizations can do to handle patient information in a secure industry- and government-compliant manner.

To learn more about the steps your organization can take towards a safe, compliant data management model, talk to us today.

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Sep 2, 2021

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