By Nic Cofield
I’ve had the chance to work with several medical offices over the years, and one thing I see many practices struggle with is access control. Finding the right balance between security and usability has always been a challenge, yet now, more than ever, it’s vital that you do everything you can to protect sensitive information, and paramount in that effort is strong access security. Let's look at a few ways you can look to improve your access controls.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-Factor Authentication adds an additional layer of security beyond traditional username and password combinations. By requiring users to provide multiple forms of identification, such as a password and a unique verification code sent to their mobile device, MFA significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access. Consider every instance where MFA could be implemented, including electronic health record (EHR) systems, email platforms, and other sensitive applications. This simple yet effective measure can thwart many cyber threats, even if login credentials are compromised.
Regularly Review and Update User Permissions
One of the common pitfalls in access control is overlooking changes in staff roles and responsibilities. Regularly reviewing and updating user permissions ensures that employees have the appropriate level of access needed to perform their duties, and nothing more. When staff members change roles or leave the organization, promptly revoke their access to sensitive data to prevent potential security breaches. Additionally, leverage the concept of least privilege to minimize the level of access each user has down to the bare minimum needed for their individual role, and consider systems that would alert the information security team if a user’s access were to be elevated without permission.
Use Unique User IDs
One thing many medical offices struggle with is the use of unique user IDs across all systems. Too often, generic IDs are shared amongst a group of staff, such as NURSE1 or FRONTDESK. Each user must have a distinct identifier tied to their credentials. Why? It's about accountability and traceability. Unique user IDs enhance audit trails, making it easier to pinpoint the source of any potential security issues or breaches.
By implementing these few simple measures, you're not just maintaining the integrity of patient data; you're upholding the trust those patients have placed upon you to secure their sensitive information.
Nic Cofield is an IT specialist with Jackson Thornton Technologies.