Best Practices for Securing Healthcare Data on Digital Applications

Written by Emi Weiss

In 2017, a report on Digital Health found that there were more than 318,000 health-related applications on the market, about double the amount of healthcare applications available just two years before.  

Healthcare data applications have become increasingly popular due to: 

  • Increased patient interaction with doctors and providers

  • Fewer medication mistakes

  • More personalized care, leading to a reduction in healthcare costs

With an increasing presence of healthcare data applications, rich with personal information, there is an ever growing concern – how can we ensure that our information is secure?  

According to a study conducted by Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technology (SMART) Health IT, healthcare providers state that one of their main concerns with healthcare data apps are their privacy and security.  

phone apps

As a Consumer: How Can You Verify if Your Healthcare Information is Secure On an App?

Determine if the Healthcare Data Application Follows HIPAA

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a set of regulations that provides security measures to protect healthcare information. There is no formal HIPAA approval process, therefore, it is important that an external audit takes place so that you can ensure your healthcare app follows the HIPAA guidelines.

If the Healthcare Data App Will Be Used in Europe, Make Sure It Follows GDPR Regulations

GDPR is the European Union’s privacy law that is targeted at data and privacy protection in general, not exclusively for healthcare data applications.

Check to See if the App Development Team is a Reputable Company  

If the company has created many apps, chances are it is a more trustworthy source.

Secure Your Mobile Devices

Using firewalls and multiple forms of password protection on your mobile device is strongly recommended.

Restrict Access to Your Healthcare Data and Digital Applications 

Examples of this include user authentication and the principle of least privilege.

Regularly Update Your Devices

By updating your devices, you install the newest software that has improved security provisions.  Keeping your devices up-to-date will minimize the likelihood of a security breach.

As a Creator: What Can You Do to Secure Healthcare Data on Digital Applications?

Adopt Tech That Limits the Damage When Attacks Occur 

An example of this is segregating networks.  To do this, you can use firewall software, virtual switching, host-based security, application firewalls, and content filtering systems.

Encrypt All Devices That Might Have Data, Including Portable Devices

For best results, follow the data encryption rule – to encrypt all data in motion and at rest.

Secure Wireless Networks

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Implement Data Usage Controls

By setting data usage controls, you will be able to monitor your data activity and have your system alert you if there is any suspicious activity on your device.

Backup Your User’s Healthcare Data to a Secure, Offsite Location

In case of a security breach where your user’s data is stolen or deleted, you want to make sure your user’s healthcare data is saved to another location, so that he does not lose all of his important records.

tech security

Examples of Security Gone Wrong

Blue Cross Employee Blunder

An employee at Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia exposed the healthcare data of 16,762 patients after submitting a member’s information online to the public.  This data included names, provider information, birth dates, and diagnosis codes, though social security numbers and financial data were not included in the breach.

Hackers Compromise Banner Health’s Member Data

In 2016, Banner Health, a healthcare provider based in Arizona, revealed that it had found unusual activity on its private servers.  With the help of a cybersecurity firm, it found that hackers had launched two attacks on the company and had compromised the healthcare data of 3.62 million members.

Many data breaches among healthcare providers in Arizona are due to stolen or lost equipment, though healthcare providers are facing more data breaches from hackers that are looking to resell patient information on the black market.
When it comes to securing your healthcare data, it is better to be safe than sorry.  If you are in the process of building a healthcare application, make sure to follow our best practices to ensure the security of patient and personal data. .  If you would like more information on how to secure your healthcare data on digital applications, message us at hello@seamgen.com.




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