Why Do FECs Need Help from IT Security Services to Protect ePHI Data?

HIPAA was put in place to set the safeguarding policies for Protected Health Information (PHI). The electronic copy of these records is known as ePHI. It includes our health status and treatments, as well as our billing matters, which include our contact information and identifying numbers. Essentially, the healthcare industry holds a wealth of valuable private data. This is precisely why it is a prime target for cybercriminals.

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Freestanding emergency centers (FECs) need a local managed IT services provider (MSP) that offers layered security solutions to combat this. That way, you can be prepared for when an attempted hack occurs, rather than just hoping it doesn’t. Check out these five ways that MSP services can take care of your IT problems before they become problems.


Identify System Vulnerabilities

When you have a flaw in your system or network, it can be exploited by cyber attackers. They can steal and distribute or destroy your data. MSP services mitigate the chance of this happening by constantly monitoring and managing those systems and networks. For any type of organization, their work includes asset inventory management and vulnerability scans. But, when it comes to FECs, they also invest time in HIPAA assessments and policy management. 

Your FEC is required to perform security risk analyses. These must consist of thorough and accurate reports of the potential vulnerabilities that your facility faces. This way, you see what needs to be done in order to mitigate the risks involving the confidentiality and integrity of your patients.

Centre Technologies offers MSP services that include ongoing compliance support as we discover risks and guide your FEC through the process of creating a risk remediation plan.


Protect Your IT Infrastructure

Until you partner with MSP services, there is no guarantee that your IT infrastructure will be out of harm’s way. And this is a major problem considering how much you depend on technology for providing diagnoses and communicating.

For that matter, your FEC relies heavily on the ability to provide care at all hours of the day. So, this would not be in your best interest. Having strategic guidance and planning sessions with security policy experts will keep your staff doing their jobs in a safe way. Examples of what MSP services recommend doing to protect your IT infrastructure include:

  • Hard drive encryption
  • Backups (Office 365, offsite server backups, data backups)
  • Identity and access management
  • Password policies and management
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Secure remote access
  • Intrusion detection and prevention
  • Advanced malware protection
  • Wireless network security
  • Automated software patching and updates


Detect Cyber Security Events

Because MSP services actively monitor your systems, they will be able to note any security events. These are changes in a network’s daily operations that can affect your FEC’s risk levels. They can happen daily, meaning the odds are that members of your staff will run into them often. Risk levels are classified as low, moderate, or high.

The labels correspond to how confidential the data is that is being stored in your systems. They aren’t considered security incidents until consequences actually occur from the event itself. For instance, the event would be a phishing email being sent, while the incident would be a data breach.

Should a data breach happen, your IT service provider may find that ePHI has been exposed. You want your patients to feel comfortable with you. But that can’t happen if their ePHI isn’t actually protected. No matter the size of a facility, a healthcare provider must be able to implement multiple safeguards for that information. This can be accomplished with the help of the streamlined solutions laid out by your provider.


Respond to Threats

Endpoint isolation is critical to taking care of any threat. It is a cybersecurity technique that segregates devices from the rest of the network so that the threat won’t spread. Think of it like when you get sick and stay home from work. In which case, the immune systems of your colleagues won’t be compromised. From there, MSP services will be able to not only identify the threat, but also terminate it and clean up the mess it has caused. This is similar to when you go to the doctor and receive a prescription for the appropriate medication to cure your illness.

Companies that offer MSP services also participate in DNS monitoring. Essentially, this ensures the security of browser communication by preventing targeted attacks. DNS is popular among hackers. Two of their most common ways to capture ePHI include DNS poisoning and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. Back in 2018, Boston Children’s Hospital endured a DDoS attack that disrupted them for approximately two weeks. It’s something your FEC must take seriously.


Recover From a data  breach or Incident

Make sure that your FEC has developed an incident response plan. Outline what the roles and responsibilities are for everyone involved. Being able to properly communicate these procedures from the beginning is necessary for their execution later on. Your MSP services team will help to design this, keeping in mind best practices for identifying and eliminating external threats. Should you end up getting breached, they will know how to expertly recover from it. This plan can be improved over time, in accordance with expanding hacking abilities and your needs.

Data theft has the potential to result in increased patient fatalities. Those people are depending on you. So, you need to have an IT service provider that you can trust to get everything back online quickly. Your data backups, both for server and email data, have to be successful and recoverable. Providers will take care to form a routine backup procedure to protect against loss.


IT Security Measures for Staff

Don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to security. That includes making sure that your own team is well-trained. If they don’t know how to properly handle your FEC’s IT, it can result in trouble down the road. After all, it isn’t just your MSP services team that will be using the technology. Cybersecurity problems can arise from those closest to you making a mistake. Your provider will assist you in the security awareness training process by sharing their skills and knowledge.

Something to note is that annual training courses are the most common way to go about this process. However, it has been found that participants are less likely to remember the information at that interval. IT professionals recommend, instead, refreshing them on cybersecurity efforts every four to six months. The less training your FEC invests in, the more likely your staff is to be exploited.

Centre Technologies has been providing MSP services since 2002. Today, our team delivers seamless IT support for FECs across eight states. We can help build your facility from the ground up, or we can integrate our expert IT solutions into your existing infrastructure. Send us a message to get started with a support team that will operate with professionalism and integrity at every level.

Originally published on June 10, 2022

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Organizations trust Centre to deploy, manage, and secure IT solutions that ensure day-to-day business continuity and increase operational efficiency. Centre’s Managed Services provide 24x7 secure by default IT support and proactive consulting that keep businesses moving. Centre Assist™ technical consultants work alongside customers to deliver innovation and business optimization by being an extension of their team. Learn more about Secure Managed Services »

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