Healthcare professionals have a rocky relationship with electronic health records (EHRs). According to a recent Stanford survey, 44 percent say the storage value of EHRs outweighs their treatment and diagnostic benefits while 49 percent believe that using EHRs detracts from clinicians' overall effectiveness. 

Health data breaches are also on the rise as malicious actors recognize the value of personally identifiable information (PII) and medical histories. In one case, a misconfigured network exposed nearly one million patient records. This creates a paradox for health professionals as they're tasked to both improve EHR effectiveness and boost security compliance, effectively asking them to do more with less

Here are 10 ways to secure electronic health records and protect patient information without breaking the bank.

1) “Fire” it Up

Firewalls — perimeter-based defenses that look for malicious traffic and resource requests — still offer value, even for cloud-based data. As noted by CSO, while traditional firewalls don't provide much protection against emerging threats, next-gen solutions offer both internal and external defenses to limit risk.

2) Invest in Antivirus

New antivirus tools do more than seek out typical malware signatures — they actively look for suspicious network behavior to improve cloud security. And as Healthcare IT News points out, they're also cost-effective and simple to deploy, making it easy for healthcare organizations to deploy improved protection without impacting system performance.

3) Educate Employees

Employees are responsible for 58 percent of all healthcare security incidents according to the 2018 Protected Health Information Data Breach Report. While most of these incidents are accidental, not malicious, the result is the same: Security compliance suffers.

Regular employee training that covers security threats such as protected access, phishing attacks and the risks of social media sharing can reduce the risk of insider breaches without breaking the bank.

4) Manage Portable Devices

The front line of any EHR protection strategy? Data encryption. As noted by Security Boulevard, data encryption not only frustrates attackers looking to steal critical information, it also protects data integrity across devices — critical for healthcare providers access patient records on desktop computers, laptops, and tablets.

5) Don't Forget the Physical

One of the most cost-effective ways to secure EHR data? Physical security. From securely locked filing cabinets to restricted access data storage rooms and digital security cameras, increasing the physical protection of electronic health records can help deter insider attacks and reduce the risk of external theft.

6) Secure Remote Services

Employees and patients now expect access to EHRs via mobile devices. But as noted by Health IT Security, 25 percent of healthcare organizations experienced a mobile-related data breach last year. The result? It's worth spending on mobile device management (MDM) solutions that allow companies to determine what type of data can be stored on devices and what kind of access is required.

7) Delete Old Data

Cloud services make it easy to store and easy to forget old data. While advanced cloud protections can help limit data breaches, the simpler (and more cost effective) way to reduce risk is regularly deleting old data — hackers can't steal what isn't there.

8) Search Out Shadow IT

93% of healthcare IT pros struggle with shadow IT — the use of unapproved applications and services across secure networks. The fastest, cheapest way to solve this problem? Bring shadow IT into the light by working with staff to discover why they're using unsanctioned apps and devices and look for ways to keep functionality without compromising security.

9) Stay Current

Data from EHRs is now leveraged by healthcare professionals across mobile devices, desktops, and connected Internet-of-things (IoT) technologies. However, this myriad of devices also presents multiple risks, since single vulnerabilities can cause network-wide problems. 

Healthcare providers are well-served by keeping all devices up-to-date with automatic security patches. The minimal downtime required to implement these upgrades and improve security compliance is far less disruptive than the large-scale loss of patient data.

10) Plan for Problems

As noted by Healthcare Business Tech, it's impossible for health providers to defend against every malicious action. No matter how much time and money they spend securing electronic health records, hackers are always looking for new weaknesses and opportunities. Creating a security incident plan helps streamline response and protect critical data in the event of a breach.

Bonus: Ask for Help

Money isn't the only limiting factor for healthcare organizations: Time and technical expertise also play a role. Managed security services providers (MSSPs) such as ArmorPoint can help healthcare businesses implement key data controls with expertly managed security initiatives and 24/7 support, in turn reducing the stress on local IT teams. Budgets also benefit thanks to OpEx pricing models that let organizations choose the best combination of security services for their needs.

EHRs are here to stay — healthcare companies must protect patient data without breaking the bank. Start with these 10 cost-saving tips to manage data defense, or tap the industry expertise of hosted cloud security providers. Curious? Discover the impact of streamlined, simplified security information and event management (SIEM) with ArmorPoint.

About ArmorPoint

ArmorPoint is a security information and event management solution that provides a cost-effective and reliable way to continually protect your business from emerging threats. Through its customizable service pricing model, ArmorPoint’s cost-effective packages and dynamic levels of expert management support the security strategies of all companies, regardless of available budget, talent, or time. And since ArmorPoint offers 24/7 security support with a team of dedicated specialists, they can provide you with the manpower you need to expertly manage all of your cybersecurity initiatives. See how ArmorPoint can make a difference in your security posture with a risk-free 30 day free trial