File Sharing for the Pharma Industry graphic

File Sharing for the Pharma Industry

The pharmaceutical industry deals with a tremendous amount of personal data on a daily basis. This means that a dedicated solution for responsible file-sharing is a non-negotiable necessity. Now, it’s been several years since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but there are still numerous pharmaceutical companies that are not in compliance with these rules and regulations. Companies that do not protect their information are subject to fines, and they could lose the confidence of their employees and their customers if confidential information falls into the wrong hands.

That is why it is important for pharmaceutical and healthcare companies to invest in a secure file-sharing solution that makes it easy for them to share their information with those who require it. This is particularly important for those who are in patient-facing roles. What do pharmaceutical companies need to know about sharing files, and what are some of the considerations they need to think about if they are looking for a solution that can help them?

What Does GDPR Compliance Mean for Pharmaceutical Companies?

First, it is important to talk about what we mean when we discuss compliance. Compliance refers to the ability of pharmaceutical companies to ensure they follow all relevant rules and regulations. Even the pharmaceutical companies do not want to spend more time or money on this than they have to, as it is important for them to minimize potential exposure to government fines and sanctions.

When pharmaceutical companies ensure compliance, there are several steps they need to take. They include:

  • A Data Protection Officer: For pharmaceutical companies to make sure they are in compliance with GDPR, they need to appoint a data protection officer. This can either be an internal employee or an outsourced data protection officer who can ensure the company is in compliance.
  • Subject Access Requests: GDPR also requires pharmaceutical companies to be in compliance with subject access requests. All pharmaceutical companies need to have processes in place to deal with these requests. They need to handle them quickly and efficiently to avoid drawing the watchful eye of government auditors and regulators.
  • A Written Contract: Another requirement of GDPR is that pharmaceutical companies need to have contracts with service providers that have the right protection measures in place. This is important for protecting personal data processing.
  • Fast Reaction Time: Pharmaceutical companies also need to make sure they can react quickly and efficiently in the event of a data breach. This is particularly important if the data breach involves the personal information of patients. Even though nobody deserves to have their medical records stolen, there is important demographic information and financial information that could be used to commit identity fraud.
  • Exceptional Safety and Control: Of course, pharmaceutical companies also need to have exceptional safety and control measures. Pharmaceutical companies need to be aware of what is happening with their confidential documents, and they need to make sure this information is adequately protected.

These are just a few of the essential compliance measures that pharmaceutical companies need to think about when it comes to personal information safety and protection.

What About HIPAA Compliance?

  • Availability: Pharmaceutical companies need to make sure that all protected health information is readily available to providers who need it to make important medical decisions.
  • Integrity: Pharmaceutical companies also need to make sure it is exceptionally difficult to change the information in protected health information without the right credentials.
  • Confidentiality: Pharmaceutical companies also have a duty to make sure confidential health information is properly protected.
  • Security: Pharmaceutical companies also have a responsibility to implement strong security measures that can detect potential data breaches and safeguard personal information against the efforts of hackers.
  • Certification: Everyone who comes into contact with protected health information at a pharmaceutical company needs to have the appropriate HIPAA certifications.

There are 18 separate categories of information that fall under HIPAA protection. Some of the most important examples include patient names, addresses, email addresses, birthdays, Social Security numbers, account numbers, driver’s license numbers, and any other information that could be used to quickly and easily identify the information in question in that specific record.

If pharmaceutical companies do not do a good job of safeguarding this information, they could face fines and sanctions from the government. That is why all pharmaceutical companies need to think carefully about which file-sharing solution they use.

Considerations for File-Sharing in the Pharmaceutical Industry

It is critical for pharmaceutical companies to ensure IT compliance, and there are several important factors everyone in this industry needs to keep in mind. They include:

Password-Protected Links

First, you need to find a file-sharing solution that allows you to protect your files with passwords. That way, just because someone has access to an email account doesn’t necessarily mean they can open the attachment. Think about the number of people who use a single computer in a hospital on a given day. Doctors and nurses are constantly moving from place to place, and it is easy for them to forget to lock their computer before they leave. Someone who is walking by could access an email attachment if it does not have a password on it.

With access to SmartFile, you can add passwords to all of your files. Remember that you should also create a strong password that is difficult to guess. Some of the tips to keep in mind include:

  • The longer the password is, the more challenging it will be to guess.
  • You should try to use a password that contains a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • You may want to add numbers and special characters that make the password even harder to guess.
  • Remember to rotate and update your passwords from time to time. Do not use the same password for multiple files!

If you want to make sure your files stay safe, you need to make sure to protect them with passwords and links. SmartFile gives you the ability to do so.

Granular User Roles and Permissions

When people think about accessing files, they usually believe this is an all-or-nothing issue. If someone has access to one file, they may have access to all of them. This is not the way to keep your information secure. You need to use a program that allows you to assign granular user roles and permissions. What this means is that people do not have access to more than they have to.

By limiting someone’s access, you are not showing that you do not trust them. You are simply protecting that person in the event their credentials are stolen. If someone steals someone else’s credentials, they will not necessarily get access to everything. They will only get access to the files that that specific individual has access to. Furthermore, if you use two-factor authentication, all of the files could still be protected.

With SmartFile, you have the ability to assign granular user roles and permissions. You do not need to give someone access to more than they need to do their jobs. Even better, if you need to change someone’s access level from time to time, you have the ability to do so with ease through SmartFile. This type of control is unprecedented across file-sharing platforms, and it is one of the reasons why you need to take advantage of SmartFile to help you protect your information as well.

Activity Reporting & Notifications

Keep in mind that one of the most important components of GDPR is the ability to track who is accessing certain files. That is exactly what you get access to if you decide to use SmartFile. With activity reporting and notifications, you can see who is accessing what files, what they are doing with them, and where the files are going. That way, in the event someone has questions about secure record audits, you can pull up the paper trail quickly and easily. This will help you keep yourself out of the firing line concerning government auditors.

It is good practice for you to audit your internal records from time to time. You do not necessarily need to audit all of them, but you should get in the habit of auditing a percentage of them. You should take a look at who was accessing the records, why you think they need access to those records, and what they are doing with that information. If someone does not need access to certain patient records to do their jobs, you could ask them why they are looking at those records. Perhaps they know the person, perhaps it is a famous person, or perhaps they simply made a mistake and opened the wrong chart. 

If people know you are keeping an eye on who is accessing what record, they will only access the information they need to do their jobs. This will limit your potential vulnerability as well. With SmartFile, you get access to activity reporting and notification. You can keep a close eye on who is accessing your records and what they are doing with them.

Secure End-to-End Encryption

You should also look for a file-sharing solution that gives you access to secure end-to-end encryption. This is another feature that you get from SmartFile. There is a good chance that your files are encrypted on your computers. There is also a good chance that your files are encrypted when they arrive at their destination. On the other hand, are your files adequately protected when moving from place to place? Unfortunately, this is not the case unless you have a solution that provides end-to-end encryption. That is why many attacks occur when the file is in transit.

If you are looking for a solution that provides you with end-to-end encryption for your records, then you need to go with SmartFile. Encryption means that all of your information is protected by a secure layer of code as it moves from place to place. This makes it particularly difficult for a hacker to steal your confidential information. If you do not encrypt your data, then just about anyone can see it. If you want to make sure you are in compliance with all government rules and regulations for the pharmaceutical industry, you need to invest in SmartFile—as we make sure all your information is protected.

These are just a few of the most important considerations that every pharmaceutical company needs to think about when they are trying to find a file-sharing solution. It is time to upgrade from a consumer-grade file-sharing solution to a professional one that will help you share information with people who need it while also protecting this confidential information against hackers.

Rely on SmartFile for All File-Sharing Needs

If you are in the pharmaceutical industry, it is important for you to make sure you are in compliance with all relevant government regulations. It is also important for you to make sure you protect the confidential information of all patients. That is why you need to think carefully about the file-sharing solution you choose to use.

At SmartFile, we understand just how important it is for you to protect all PHI. We have devised a solution that is in compliance with all GDPR and HIPAA regulations, allowing you to protect your information while focusing on what matters most to you. It would be our honor to help you protect your files. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you, please contact us today.

SmartFile is a business file mangement platform that gives you more control, compliance and security.