I admit the title is a little over the top, but I wanted to get your attention. I really cannot stress this enough. If you are storing confidential patient data electronically, then the easiest way to potentially save your practice a million dollars is by encrypting the data.
Just take a look at the HHS (Health and Human Services) “Wall of Shame” that lists the names of healthcare organizations who reported loss of confidential patient data that affected more than 500 patients. In many cases the affected organizations have paid more than a million dollars in penalties following a regulatory HIPAA compliance review of their patient data security practices. The most common data losses have been a lost or stolen employee laptop containing confidential patient data that was not encrypted.
Confidential patient data in electronic form, also referred to as electronic protected health information (ePHI) is the heart of a healthcare practice. It is the foundation of trust between the provider and the patient. Your business depends on keeping patient data secure and available to you at all times. Loss of patient data can be disastrous on a number of fronts including legal liabilities under HIPAA and state regulations, loss of reputation, and business. Encrypting your data while it is stored (at rest) or in emails or moving across a network (in motion) prevents unauthorized personnel from accessing it. Your data is safe in the event of a malicious hacker attack or if a laptop, USB memory stick containing ePHI is lost or stolen. Encryption technologies like Bitlocker and TruCrypt are easy to implement and extremely affordable even for small practices.
Give yourself the peace of mind you need. Encrypt your patient data. Protect your patients, protect your reputation and your practice!