Not only are cloud-delivered, software-defined network solutions progressing the healthcare industry by introducing network mobility to mobile clinics, ambulatory applications, and traveling doctors, but these network solutions are also improving the security of patients’ private information.
Leaders in the healthcare field recognize that these evolving network technologies are necessary for ensuring and affording compliance. Compliance challenges include keeping medical and financial data accessible yet secure and making the most of the limited resources in the face of potentially expensive solutions. Healthcare organizations must be proactive in their designs to ensure compliance, rather than being reactive after the fact.
BRING MOBILITY TO HEALTHCARE & REMAIN HIPAA & PCI COMPLIANT
PRIVACY & DATA SECURITY
Software-defined WAN solutions provide the level of privacy and data security required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Mobile workers stay connected to the network via flexible, highly available SD-WAN, meaning they no longer need to store patient medical records on devices such as laptops, which present significant security risks if lost or stolen. Instead, healthcare organizations can store patient records in the cloud or back at the private data center, thereby allowing access and transmission for better care, but not actual possession of patient medical information whenever a mobile care provider needs it.
The primary focus of HIPAA is to ensure the privacy and security of medical information while making it easier to transfer from provider to provider in a secure way. Protecting patient records is critical, as the records have become an increasingly valuable target over time. In fact, Reuters reported that “your medical information is worth 10 times more than your credit card number on the black market.”
A recent Forbes article stated, “in 2016, 450 breaches occurred, affecting 27 million patient records. Of those, 120 incidents resulted from outside hacking, while 200 – over 65 percent more – came from insider actions.”Medical information is so valuable because healthcare records don’t change, they are accurate for a lifetime. The uses of this data are also wide reaching and lucrative to the bad actors stealing the information. Uses include identity theft, false medical claims and drug purchases.
The software-defined WAN solutions protect private information in healthcare organizations that struggle to apply the correct security standards in environments such as mobile healthcare, small clinics, or in small, independent physician’s offices. Medical professionals who operate and work at a mobile blood bank, for example, frequently set up at a different site every day. Software-defined WAN enables them to connect to a network in different locations, securely transmit health data remotely to the datacenter, and move away from storing personal health information on laptops and other mobile devices that could be breached, lost, or stolen.
Cloud-delivered, software-defined network solutions combine strong end-to-end encryption, auto-PKI, and machine authentication with a fully cloaked private address space and micro‑segmentation capabilities, while offering the security of a private network over the public Internet.
From a hardware standpoint, routing solutions can make it possible to create separate, parallel networks and keep data subject to HIPAA compliance on a completely different network from, for example, the network that employees use to access their email. This air-gapped separation helps mitigate the possibility that a hacker could gain access to patient health records by breaching a weakly secured or risky application.
Overall, these solutions allow medical professionals, such as those working in the mobile blood bank, to function as needed while still gathering, storing, and transmitting medical information in a way that remains secure, regardless of their physical location.
While HIPAA Compliance is focused primarily on healthcare organizations, Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance standards must be met across all industries. Essentially, any company or organization that accepts credit card transactions must meet and follow strict guidelines around security and data protection.
Healthcare organizations must manage PCI requirements in ways that support and work with HIPAA Compliance measures. Fortunately, the same solutions that enable HIPAA Compliance also help organizations meet PCI Compliance requirements.
A care provider who visits a patient at home, for example, can process any necessary payments on the spot through the same secure laptop and network connection being used to access and update the patient’s medical record. Also, patients making payments at a clinic, doctor’s office, or even emergency department can rest assured that their financial transaction and data is kept secure throughout the entire payment process.
Also, ensuring your healthcare organization is both HIPAA and PCI compliant also provides financial protection by eliminating the costly fines, fees, legal penalties, and other expenses that may result from compliance violations.
BIG SUPPORT FOR SMALLER CLINICS
Given the complexity of HIPAA and PCI requirements, it’s no surprise that even the biggest healthcare organizations struggle with compliance. For smaller clinics, medical offices, and providers with limited resources, these compliance challenges can seem even more overwhelming.
Instead of presenting a challenge, however, software-defined networking technology provides a cost-effective solution. Healthcare organizations using software-defined networking technology can deploy a VPN that allows a therapist with an individual practice to ensure a secure financial transaction at the end of a patient’s session. Additionally, the therapist can securely store and share patient records with other providers — such as psychologists, hospitals, and emergency responders — while keeping communications private and secure.
As it becomes increasingly expensive for small-scale practitioners to take on the risk of being noncompliant, network solutions that simplify the building and management of network infrastructure can mitigate risk and present a secure, cost-effective, reliable solution for HIPAA’s and PCI’s complex requirements.