Balancing accessibility with compliance in the healthcare

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Balancing accessibility with compliance in the
healthcare sector
Healthcare networks have become extremely
complex in recent years, with more devices than
ever connecting to servers and accessing hospital
resources. Numerous factors have helped to
push hospitals into the digital age, including the
proliferation of electronic health records and
the increasing rate of adoption for advanced IT
assets. While these technological achievements
will drastically improve the performance and
effectiveness of medical centers, they have
created some up-front concerns for administrators
and staff members. Securing sensitive patient
information while still enabling physicians to easily
and quickly access relevant medical documents
has become a confounding balancing act for many
healthcare organizations. High-quality network
management solutions will be needed to address
these concerns and usher in a new and better age
of healthcare operations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reported that 78 percent of office-based physicians
used EHRs in some capacity in 2013. That growth
has ramped up in recent years, with the number
of physician offices using EHR systems increasing
21 percent from 2012 to 2013. These figures align
with overall industry figures regarding the use of IT
solutions in healthcare. The Department of Health
& Human Services announced last year that the use
of medical-based IT services had doubled among
hospitals and physicians since 2012.
The days of doctors consulting paper-based charts
are quickly coming to an end. More facilities are
switching over to digital record keeping in part due
to government mandates and incentives such as
those outlined by the Health Insurance Portability
and Accountability Act and the Health Information
Technology for Economic and Clinical Health
Act. Overall, EHRs enable physicians to easily
access and share critical medical information at a
moment’s notice.
Challenges to maintaining a high level
of performance
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Furthermore, according to a 2013 survey published
by Epocrates, 86 percent of clinicians used a
smartphone. Furthermore, 47 percent were
identified as “digital omnivores,” using a smartphone,
tablet and computer all on a regular basis.
Mobile usage without a proper framework could
lead to more headaches for practitioners, including
a heightened risk of cybercriminal activity. Data
breaches at the hands of cybercriminals and
other unauthorized users could result in the loss
of sensitive patient information. Such cases have
been heavily publicized in news outlets, creating
a great deal of public outcry against victimized
medical facilities. In addition to the ensuing PR
nightmare, a massive data breach could also lead to
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Untangle, Inc. All other company or product names are the property of their respective owners.
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an organization being investigated by the federal
government for HIPAA violations, which carries its
own set of financial penalties.
HIPAA-related fines can be extremely detrimental
to the operability of a healthcare organization.
Enacted in 2009, the HITECH Act established a
maximum fine of $1.5 million for medical facilities
that have violated data security regulations. That
is far from an empty threat, as there have been
instances of businesses receiving the full brunt of
possible federal penalties. In 2012, Massachusetts
Eye and Ear Infirmary and Massachusetts Eye and
Ear Associates Inc. paid the maximum fine after
reporting a significant data breach.
Many healthcare facilities would not be able to
weather such a setback, potentially forced to scale
back on personnel, equipment or services in order
to account for the loss of revenue.
The HITECH Act does provide some financial
benefits to members of the medical community,
however. A major goal of the law is to encourage
hospitals, physicians and over practitioners
to utilize EHRs whenever possible. As such,
healthcare facilities that follow the “meaningful use”
guidelines may be eligible to receive incentive
payments totaling in tens of thousands of dollars.
hospitals and other medical facilities to oversee
network activity and make changes as needed,
leading to full regulatory compliance as well as
optimized resource allocation.
One of Untangle’s greatest features is the ability
to monitor and manage data access controls to
ensure that only fully authorized parties are able
to get their hands on sensitive patient information.
The granular level of oversight offered by Untangle
enables physicians to freely retrieve medical
records whenever they are needed to provide
high-quality patient care without sacrificing the
integrity or security of those documents.
The network management solutions offered
by Untangle can help healthcare organizations
address their security issues, allaying any
regulatory compliance concerns. The security
features built into Untangle services allow users to
block unwanted or unauthorized network access
attempts, preventing malware and other online
threats from breaking into sensitive medical
databases. Not only will this greater level of
security keep medical facilities in compliance with
federal guidelines, but it will allow them to take a
significant step toward meeting the requirements
for receiving HITECH benefits.
Security, compliance covered by
Untangle
To properly address these concerns, healthcare
administrators should look to implement the vast
array of network monitoring and management
tools offered by Untangle. These solutions allow
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©2014 Untangle, Inc. All rights reserved. Untangle, Internet Content Control, and the Untangle logo are registered marks or trademarks of
Untangle, Inc. All other company or product names are the property of their respective owners.
®
In addition to the network management and security
solutions provided by Untangle, the comprehensive
service also features unparalleled customization tools.
Healthcare operators can set up their solution to meet
their unique requirements, including setting up specific
access levels and policies for different users. Given
the broad swath of diverse organizations that make
up the medical community, it’s important that officials
are able to customize their network settings to avoid
unnecessary and potentially risky usage.
©2014 Untangle, Inc. All rights reserved.
Untangle, Internet Content Control, and
the Untangle logo are registered marks or
trademarks of Untangle, Inc. All other company
or product names are the property
of their respective owners.
Untangle, Inc.
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San Jose, CA 95113
References
Untangle: A must-have solution for
healthcare operators
cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db143.htm
hhs.gov/news/press/2013pres/05/20130522a.html
Healthcare IT needs are not about to slow down
anytime soon, and the increased demand for connected
solutions will continue to exacerbate security and
compliance concerns. Untangle solutions enable
medical facilities to take control of their network
environments and manage traffic at both granular and
broader levels. By taking advantage of Untangle’s
security and user control features, hospital officials
can effectively put compliance fears to rest. The
combination of world-class network management
and security makes Untangle a must-have solution
for healthcare operations everywhere regardless
of their size or scope. With Untangle in their corner,
administrators can be certain that physicians have the
resources they need to treat patients without putting
sensitive documents at risk and running afoul of
regulatory committees.
www.untangle.com
epocrates.com/oldsite/statistics/2013%20Epocrates%20
Mobile%20Trends%20Report_FINAL.pdf
cdc.gov/ehrmeaningfuluse/introduction.html
hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/09/20120917a.html
hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/enforcementrule/
hitechenforcementifr.html
©2014 Untangle, Inc. All rights reserved. Untangle, Internet Content Control, and the Untangle logo are registered marks or trademarks of
Untangle, Inc. All other company or product names are the property of their respective owners.
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