How healthcare innovations can help keep prescription drug information confidential

By Jennifer Goforth Gregory, on | Healthcare

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Patients know that their doctors are bound by law to keep their symptoms and medical concerns confidential. However, even with all the healthcare innovations out there, the type of prescription drugs a patient takes reveals a significant amount of private information about that person’s health conditions. This is especially true with mental health conditions controlled with medication, such as depression or anxiety.

No one wants to wake up one morning and find a list of his or her medications posted online for friends and neighbors to browse. However, with increases in data breaches and ransomware attacks in the healthcare sector, prescription information is vulnerable, as is other personal health information (PHI).

One of the additional challenges with prescription information is that pharmacies are often located in grocery store chains and retail drugstores, which allows for more opportunities for breaches. The rise of mobile apps for refilling and managing prescriptions also provides another potential gateway for cybercriminals to access confidential information.

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However, mobile refill apps and pharmacies can add an extra layer to their processes to protect prescription data. Here are three healthcare innovations and strategies that enterprises can leverage to minimize breaches and ensure patient confidentiality:

1. Next-generation firewalls

This new technology allows specific data, such as prescription details, to be tagged through ethernet tagging and assigned a separate security protocol. This allows the data to take advantage of a high level of clearance and additional protection. If the prescription information is transferred to another location on the network, the security policy stays with it. The additional intrusion protection in next-generation firewalls provides a greater protection from malware and also helps identify potential security holes in the network before a criminal can take advantage.

2. Blockchain

According to Modern Healthcare, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the MIT Media Lab are working on a prototype for using blockchain to decentralize the interoperability layer. Blockchain is a new technology that is based on a distributed ledger, which organizes transactions in data blocks that remain connected. The blueprint for the project detailed that the system, called MedRec, would use blockchain encryption keys to control access to data. Additionally, when a new transaction occurs — such as another block — the patient or provider is notified as an added protection layer.

3. Focus on employee training and education

According to the 2016 Healthcare Industry Cybersecurity Report released by Security Scorecard, 75 percent of the healthcare industry has been attacked by malware in the past 12 months. Because malware is often introduced by employees accidentally clicking on an unsecured link or website, it’s essential that healthcare organizations continue to focus on training employees. With BYOD, all employees accessing the organization’s network must have up-to-date malware protection on each device that accesses the network. With the rise in ransomware attacks on the healthcare industry, it’s also essential that all employees know the signs of an attack and how to immediately shut down the network to protect prescription drug information and other confidential PHI.

By focusing on making sure all prescription information is protected, your organization ensures patient information is safe from breaches and other security threats.

About The Author

Jennifer Goforth Gregory

B2B Content Marketing Writer

Jennifer Gregory has been writing professionally for over 20 years and specializes in big data analytics, cloud computing, personal finance, B2B, small business management, hospitality, Health IT, credit cards, marketing/social media, content marketing, retirement planning and insurance. Her clients include IBM, Adobe, Samsung, Microsoft, Allstate, American Express, Ameriprise, Genworth, State Farm and Intuit. Jennifer lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jennifer's work has been published in a variety of print and online publications including, Entrepreneur.com, Atlantic.com, Success Magazine, FOX Business, MSN Money and the Raleigh News & Observer newspaper. She is a self-professed "content marketing nerd" and loves to help other writers launch their content marketing writing businesses through blogging and speaking around the country on content marketing. Jennifer has a masters degree in Technical Writing with a specialization in Technology and worked at both IBM and Arthur Andersen.

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