Tom's Take Blog

April 4, 2018

What can health plans do to help prevent online security breaches?

Tom’s Take: With the health care industry unfortunately becoming a target, we’ve seen some serious cyber attacks that have compromised patient/member data in the last few years. What can be especially worrisome is the type of information hackers are getting a hold of – everything from personal details like dates of birth and social security numbers to individual medical records.


So how can health plans be proactive about preventing a breach? To start with, they can work to beef up online security measures and ensure that vendor partners are doing the same. This spans all aspects of housing data electronically and includes things like firewall protection, stronger passwords, data backups, updated operating systems and antivirus implementation. It also extends to providing proper security awareness and training to staff and limiting access to sensitive data to only the necessary parties.


On top of that, health plans and their vendor partners should do periodic risk assessments to identify where there could be potential for security threats and address any gaps that are found in the process. It’s also critical to have a how-to response plan in place if a breach does occur and any member information is compromised.


As the incidence of online data breaches has grown in the health care sector, it will take a real commitment to increased security to prevent others. If a health plan does face a breach, the quicker and more coordinated the response, the better the likelihood to minimize the consequences.

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