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Preserving Security and Privacy of Healthcare Data
Big data in healthcare refers to the plentiful health data garnered from various sources including Electronic Health Records(EHR), medical imaging, genomic sequencing, pharmaceutical research, wearable, medical devices to name a few. These data in health informatics can be used to predict the outcome of diseases and epidemics, improve treatment and quality of life, provide information about diseases, and signals for treatment to be administrated. Since the big data contains a patient's personal information and treatment history, it is important for the database to be safeguarded from hacking, and other cyber thefts, where the stolen data can be sold. The issues on top are
• The tension regarding data growth and analytics and data minimization
• Managing connected devices and mobile applications
• Creating effective cross-functional privacy and security policies
• Effective vendor management
• Low cybersecurity awareness
• Outdated software systems
• Unauthorized data access
• High phishing vulnerability
Potential and effective management of these issues involve:
Educate personnel on security best practices: Security training can help prevent the human element of the data breach. It equips healthcare staff with essential awareness of security issues and knowledge to make wise decisions with appropriate precautionary measures.
Routine risk assessment: Performing a risk assessment on a regular basis to identify potential vulnerabilities of the system. This will help in effectively fix issues before they damage the system.
Restricting access to application and data: Controlling access private health data can help enhance the overall security of healthcare data. Access to sensitive data should be limited to authorized personals. Implementation of multi-factor authentication is a most recommended approach for securing sensitive data. Creating distinct passwords and logins for each employee can provide an extra layer of security when a breach occurs.
Encryption: It is the most effective method of data protection. Data need to be encrypted on every device including computers, mobile phones, USBs, and tablets. Encryption minimizes the susceptibility to data breaches and cyber attacks.
Big data has a great potential for changing the healthcare landscape, but it is equally important to take sophisticated, multi-faceted security measures and approaches to protect the valuable, sensitive patient data.