A Healthcare Communications Solution Must Put Safety First
Healthcare communications are one of the most vital — and vulnerable — aspects of the healthcare system, so it's surprising to discover how little investment is put into IT security. In fact, studies indicate that only 3 percent of IT budgets are spent on security.
The proliferation of new devices and new ways to send, receive and store information is contributing to a dramatic increase in data leaks and privacy violations at most companies. Large institutions are particularly vulnerable to data breaches, due to the sprawling and complex nature of their communication systems and the need for rapid access to information.
The Role of HIPAA in Communications
Authorities in the United States have been aware of the problems associated with healthcare data and communications for nearly three decades. As a result of concerns within the industry and society as a whole, the US government came up with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations, which set the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. HIPAA was first introduced in 1996 under President Clinton, and was then subsequently updated in 2009 to reflect the changing nature of digital information on the web.
With the increased enforcement of HIPAA rules and the explosion of criminal hacking on the web, healthcare providers are obliged to treat data with the utmost sensitivity. One cannot be too careful, especially when you become aware of the devastating repercussions that can follow for an individual whose medical data is stolen.
VoIP communications service providers must be configured so they are HIPAA-compliant, and they should provide tailored business associate agreements (BAAs) to document your communications compliance.
Consider a Cloud-Based Solution
It's vital that companies do a thorough assessment of their systems and look for weaknesses. Can you defend your data? Are you exposed to risk without even being aware of it? Are you HIPAA compliant? Where are the vulnerable spots? Companies need to know this in order to properly safeguard their healthcare systems.
Many companies make the mistake of equating proximity to their communications systems to safety. They think that if they somehow control their own communications systems that they are safer, whereas again and again, it's been proven that the cloud is a far more secure environment when it's managed properly.
There are a number of reasons for this:
- Most cloud-based systems used in the healthcare environment are built from the ground up with security as a top priority, and as such, they contain a 360-degree view of the system.
- The system is monitored in real-time and uses a sophisticated system of alerts to flag issues and threats, and isolate them before they get into the system.
- Healthcare communication solutions are updated automatically and regularly as new threats are identified, new security code is written, and new automatic updates are pushed into the system in order to stay one step ahead of any malware and hackers. These updates often happen quietly in the background and don't require much intervention on the part of the staff of the institution.
- The fact that it's a unified communications system means that embraces multiple forms of media means that any anomalies or threats that attempt to sneak in to the system are spotted, isolated and thwarted easily.
The industry healthcare blog Healthcare Business Technology neatly sums up the appeal of the cloud, "As more and more patient information is exchanged electronically and stored virtually, availability of the data becomes just as important as securing it. Cloud provides organizations flexible storage and disaster recovery benefits that extend beyond traditional implementations.
Cloud-based offerings provide high availability and sustainable recovery time objectives (RTO), eliminating the vulnerability of data loss during unexpected events, including natural disasters and malware attacks, so valuable, highly sensitive patient data is available 24/7."
A Solution You Can Trust
Your best defense against communications-related HIPAA breaches is to work with recognized third-party-validated HIPAA-compliant communications providers who understand healthcare and the value of complete healthcare communications solutions.
When it comes to healthcare, 8x8 provides reliable and compliant cloud solutions at a demanding level rarely seen by other cloud providers. Don't take your chances with a subpar cloud-based telecom system. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out an online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.