The healthcare industry is no stranger to data breaches. In 2021, the OCR's Breach Reporting Tool, or "Wall of Shame," recorded 586 incidents involving 500 or more people. According to the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, 39% of healthcare data breaches were caused by insiders.
To reduce the risk of employees abusing their access privileges, digital security is crucial. However, those security efforts must be combined with physical security measures, such as strict key control. If you're a healthcare provider, below are three steps you can take to tighten your facility’s key security.
1. Train employees.
One of the biggest security threats healthcare institutions face are staff members' mistakes. Verizon's report shows that human error is a common reason for data breaches in the healthcare industry. To help avoid costly errors, regularly educate your employees — especially those who have access to patient information — on privacy and security best practices. If a potential breach occurs, ensure they know the proper procedure for reporting it.
2. Find a key control system that holds employees accountable.
Your facility may have a key control policy in place, but if it's not enforceable, it's not effective. When it comes to key control, digitizing as many of those procedures as possible helps ensure employee compliance. It's important to find a key control system that minimizes manual steps. Instead of requiring staff members to issue keys, you can reduce the possibility of human error and manipulation by automatically tracking keys and user access.
3. Maintain a verifiable audit trail.
Keeping a verifiable record of employee key access helps you identify potential security breaches (e.g., an employee who regularly returns keys late or attempts to remove keys when they're not on the clock). If an incident does occur, the audit trail demonstrates that you've taken measures to protect patients and their information.
By increasing your key security, you can reduce your odds of an insider data breach and hopefully avoid a spot on the Wall of Shame.