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One of the reasons that physicians and patients alike are a little concerned about saving important health information online is security. Although patients may appreciate the convenience of being able to access their personal health records online and the time-saving aspect of their physicians’ ability to share electronic health records, hospitals and clinics are as vulnerable to hackers as any other organization. And like any other organization, they must take precautions. If your health care facility has holes or weak spots in its network security, they should be fixed as soon as possible.
Health organizations are more complex than most other businesses. Where a regular business has to worry about data coming from and going to smart phones, laptops, tablets and desktops, hospitals and medical centers have those plus medical devices like CT scanners, IV pumps and smart beds connected to networks. A hacker with a grudge against a health organization could wreak all kinds of havoc without ever once infiltrating patients’ records. Protecting patients’ personal information is priority one, but every device that connects to a network has to be protected against potential attacks.
The first thing that has to be established is who will take care of what? Naturally, the IT team will oversee the care and protection of the computers and smart phones, but who will manage the care and protection of the medical devices? A compromised medical device could harm or even kill a patient. So, it’s imperative that devices like IV pumps and CT scanners are monitored and tested regularly.
Once you’ve established who will be in charge of monitoring medical devices – and you may need to have different people in charge of different devices – you’re ready to get them fully trained on your organization’s standards and practices. If none have been established, then it’s time to create a set of standards and practices that will work best for your organization and team. Make sure your IT team and clinical engineering team and device owners all coordinate with each other. If everyone works together to ensure that all devices are working properly, there will be fewer incidences of mishaps that resulted from human error or device failure. And be careful what you buy.
When purchasing medical devices, make sure you know what kind of software they use and whether or not that software is compatible with what your organization is already using. Impress upon vendors that you won’t accept devices that have either incompatible or expired software. You want to start out with the best possible equipment.
It’s scary to think of the kind damage that someone could do if he gained access to a health organization’s network. So, it is critical for these organizations to do everything they can to ensure that their patients’ health records are protected. It’s also important to ensure that the medical devices used to care for patients are of the best possible quality and receive the same level of care and maintenance as the patients themselves.
Looking for a healthcare IT support firm that understands the importance of protecting your patient information? Call us today, we are the right choice for all your HIT needs.