Healthcare Industry Faces Online Collaboration Challenges

Image via Shutterstock.com

Image via Shutterstock.com

With a conservatively estimated 30.1 million patients affected by data breaches since 2009, the healthcare industry has come under fire regarding practices to protect sensitive records. While secure document storage and collaboration solutions are a priority in many other industries, a climate of apathy towards digital solutions could be hampering healthcare’s progress.

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs many aspects of patient information, but it falls flat when it comes to the proactive enforcement of data security. Healthcare organizations large and small are currently not required to submit to third-party audits of data security systems, leading to less emphasis on implementing a solution before trouble strikes. That can be particularly troublesome in an industry built around sharing sensitive information between consumers, healthcare providers, and private companies.

Healthcare CIOs, CTOs, and CEOs are working to get ahead of the challenge. Trying to establish a fundamental understanding of security in new cloud-based technologies, as well as how documents are stored and accessed, is a good first step to implementing tighter, safer controls in the healthcare industry. By providing easy-to-use tools to securely track and store data, for example, healthcare executives can significantly decrease the risk of losing sensitive data. In fact, 24% of patient data breaches since 2009 were due to data loss, or human error, which would be minimized – if not eradicated – with the implementation and adoption of a secure file-sharing workflow.

Case law continues to develop around data breaches, and the growing legal penalties and fees are raising the stakes for healthcare organizations. While companies in regulated industries face increased scrutiny from governing bodies, consumer-based legal exposure is also a threat. Recent lawsuits by consumers against corporations make claims of defamation, negligence, and violation of privacy rights resulting from data breaches.

While the healthcare industry is facing increasing pressure to better secure patient data, the only way the industry will be able to get ahead of the rising risks will be to proactively protect sensitive patient data and provide avenues for secure storage and collaboration.

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