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Data Security is Part of Radiology Patient Safety

Posted In: Info

When we talk about patient safety in clinical radiology, the conversation normally focuses on lead aprons, lead gloves, scatter radiation, and any of the other safety measures and safety hazards associated with the work we do. Now that it's 2017, no patient safety conversation is complete without an understanding of modern data protection.


Loss of patient data may not result in direct bodily harm to that individual, but there are consequences that can hurt them personally and/or financially. We'll cover some important examples, and identify ways that radiology practices can better protect patient data in 2017.


Data Problems for Modern Radiology


The driving force behind protection of radiology patient data is regulation. Regulations are passed down by government agencies and radiology industry authorities. The problem is, regulations are almost always reactive - solving a problem after it has already happened, not preventing more advanced attacks in the future. Regulations only prevent the most unsophisticated cyber attacks. If today's radiology practices want to actually protect their patients' data, they'll have to develop methods of their own.


During the past couple of years, the big story in medical record theft has been "Ransomware". This is illicit software hidden in an email. When opened, software is installed without drawing attention, collecting all patient data and then making it inaccessible - at least until the medical provider pays the "ransom". During this time, patient data (including diagnostic images) can be stolen, and medical providers can not provide care because they can't access the data.


Patient medical records sell for around $50 on the black market. Radiology patient records can be used for identity theft, billing fraud and even extortion. With so much at stake, it's vital for radiology practices to have firm control of patient data by any means necessary.


Methods for Radiology Patient Data Protection


As ransomware is the greatest industry threat, it is important to train your employees about it specifically. One of the best ways is through trickery - send a suspicious (but harmless) link in an email from an unknown source. When individuals in your department click on it, have a talk with them.


Another great way to protect patient data is to hold it on a separate network. This network may be controlled by a separate IT department, or by a totally independent company. In any case, radiology professionalsl rarely make good data technicians. By leaving this task to the professionals, you'll be able to provide better security for your patients, and decrease your department's liability for any breaches that do occur.


Techno-Aide's Commitment to Better Patient Outcomes in 2017


Data security is just one way that radiology professionals can give better care to patients. Even if you practice the best standards of care in the exam room, data breaches can wreak havoc on patients' lives outside of your practice. Techno-Aide spends a lot of time with the physical items that protect patients from radiation - lead aprons, gonad shields, lead gloves, etc. It's up to you to protect their records!


 

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