You Need to Locate PHI to Protect Patients

Protected Health Information (PHI) refers to any information about health status, provision of healthcare, or payment for healthcare that can be linked to a specific individual using 18 primary identifiers. Ensuring the security and compliance of this data with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations isn’t just a legal necessity, it’s a moral obligation.

Cloud storage capabilities have transformed the healthcare industry. Patient records are more accessible, operations are more efficient, and care provision is more personalized. Although cloud storage provides many benefits it poses other risks for PHI and other sensitive data. Therefore, healthcare organizations must know where their customer PHI resides to effectively protect it.

A lack of proper PHI governance can lead to data breaches, which have serious implications for organizations and patient safety. Hackers are targeting healthcare organizations because of the high value of PHI. Health data breaches reported to HHS’ Office for Civil Rights are on pace to double last year’s total number of breaches, according to an analysis by POLITICO’s Ben Leonard of the latest agency data. It is clear that safeguarding PHI in the cloud is vital, but clearly, our current methods of protection aren’t cutting it. How can healthcare professionals ensure its protection?

One answer: Proper sensitive data governance.

Sensitive data governance refers to the set of policies and procedures put in place to manage sensitive data throughout its lifecycle. This includes identifying, classifying, storing, accessing, and sharing PHI appropriately. The first step in effective governance is accurately identifying PHI within an organization’s data systems. This process involves not only understanding what constitutes PHI under HIPAA guidelines but also knowing where it exists within a healthcare organization’s cloud infrastructure.

Why is sensitive data governance important?

  • Patient Safety – Sensitive data governance is crucial as a safety net for patient safety. It establishes rules and protocols for handling patient information, ensuring proper and secure data management, and minimizing the risk of unauthorized access or breaches. Currently, efforts are being made to strengthen these protocols further, weaving an even tighter safety net in the pursuit of patient safety.
  • Patient Trust: When healthcare organizations handle sensitive data with care, they’re telling their patients, “We’ve got your back.” It’s their way of reassuring you that your details aren’t just numbers in a system, but valuable information treated with respect.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Sensitive data governance is the backbone of a healthcare organization. It enables adaptation to ever-changing healthcare regulations. Just as a backbone provides structure to the body, data governance provides structure for effective data management and utilization. Implementing set policies, processes, and procedures that are embedded into the daily functions of a healthcare organization allows companies to more effectively navigate the complex healthcare landscape.
  • Cybersecurity Threats: Sensitive data governance plays a pivotal role in helping healthcare organizations ward off cybersecurity threats. Proper governance and PHI identification ensure that every piece of information is handled with utmost care and security. Close attention to detail in data management serves as a crucial defense mechanism against potential cyber threats that may pose risks to patient privacy and the overall integrity of healthcare systems.
  • Service Optimization: Implementing data governance in healthcare organizations streamlines data management processes, mitigating redundant work and alleviating staff. It is key to optimizing healthcare service operations, and fostering faster, smoother, and more accurate processes while anticipating and mitigating potential issues.

Why ClearDATA Sensitive Data Governance?

Ensure PHI is secure and where it’s supposed to be and detect it anywhere it shouldn’t be – before a problem arises. ClearDATA’s approach goes beyond standard measures – it’s tailored to healthcare and laser-focused on PHI and other sensitive data that require a highly secure and compliant cloud environment.

Within the CyberHealth™ Platform, your environments are analyzed against the strictest healthcare-centric frameworks to identify PHI and other sensitive data. With our at-a-glance indicators, you can immediately spot problem areas, providing you with a real-time overview of your data landscape.

It’s time for all healthcare organizations to ensure PHI identification and governance in the cloud. The health of your organization – and the privacy of your patients – depends on it.

Remember, you can’t protect PHI if you don’t know where it is. To find out how we can help you identify and contain PHI in your healthcare cloud, speak to a cloud expert today.

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