HIPPA Security: Fighting Identity Theft in Hospitals

Obtaining personal information on an individual can be a gold mine for identity thieves, which is why the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) was passed by Congress in 1996. Although the act covers many things, one section, in particular, requires the protection and confidential handling of all protected health information on a person. Unfortunately, when it comes to HIPPA security, even the best management team that takes all the necessary precautions can find that their employees or patients have had their personal information compromised.

HIPPA security

Trends of cybersecurity breaches and stolen identities in the healthcare industry are on the rise with no signs of slowing down. According to HIPAA Journal, over the past three years, there have been 955 major security breaches in the healthcare industry that have resulted in the exposure and/or theft of 135,060,443 healthcare records. As a result of those breaches, which occur at a rate of almost one per day, more than 41 percent of the entire U.S. population has had some of their “protected” health information exposed.

That is pretty ridiculous, wouldn’t you agree?

Data breaches are just one reason why it’s so important to take all aspects of hospital security seriously, especially HIPPA security. In addition to protecting your patient’s information, avoiding potentially damaging lawsuits are also in the hospital’s best interest.

Three Components of HIPPA Security

The HIPAA security rule requires that healthcare practices and professionals secure protected health information. HIPPA security includes protecting patients’ information from data breaches and deletions. There are three components to HIPPA security including:

  • Administrative — implementing measures to ensure that patient data is correct and only accessible to authorized parties.
  • Physical — implementing measures to prevent physical theft and loss of devices containing electronic personal health information.
  • Technical — implementing technology-related measures to protect a facility’s networks and devices from unauthorized access and data breaches.

These three components represent nearly every supporting aspect of a business, including its policies, record keeping, technology, and building safety. In this sense, HIPAA security requires that all employees be on the same page and working together to protect patient data.

HIPPA Security & Hospital Accountability

Hospital accountability is a hot topic in the healthcare industry, and while it generally refers to the care and safety of the patient, it should also include HIPPA security and keeping everyone accountable for protecting patients’ personal information. This means being constantly vigilant to ensure that all security procedures are followed along every step of the way, even down to something as seemingly insignificant as disposing of a printer ribbon.

Let’s face it, thieves are smart. They understand that there are ways to get information that others wouldn’t even think about. One of those ways is by getting information off of discarded office products, such as printer ribbons. Printer ribbons can contain an amazing amount of personal information on them, and the only way to combat this type of theft is to stop it from getting into the hands of criminals in the first place. This can be done by simply using a ribbon shredder.

The SMART-BIT Shredder completely destroys information left on printer ribbons so that it can’t be accessed at a later time. It uses a Twisted, Micro-Cut technology to guarantee complete shredding of all personal information. Shredding all personal information and ID card printer ribbons is an important way to keep your patient’s information safe and out of the wrong hands.

Most people go into health care because they truly feel the call to help others. Knowing that you’re helping not just their health, but keeping vital information out of the wrong hands is just as rewarding and important. We invite you to contact an Identity Expert at Higgins Corporation to find out more about our SMART-BIT Shredder and other equipment that can help your hospital run smoothly and securely.

Img Credit: Information Security Wordle: NIST HIPAA Security Guide (Draft) by Purple Slog, on Flickr