Do you work in the pharmaceutical industry? It is important for you to make sure that the sensitive information of your patients, their families, and your pharmacy is protected. The vast majority of facilities in the medical field—including the pharmaceutical side—depend on the internet. In addition, as the medical field continues to grow and expand, there will be more people involved in taking care of patients than ever before.
As a result, it is critical to be able to transfer files from place to place easily. That way, every member of the treatment team has access to the information they need to act in the best interests of patients. On the other hand, it is important for you to protect that information from harm.
You need to think carefully about how your file sharing solution is going to not only protect your information but also make it easier to transfer that information to everyone involved in the treatment plan. What do you need to think about when you are looking for the right file sharing solution? Make sure the confidential information of your patients and clients is adequately protected.
HIPAA Compliance and the Pharmaceutical Industry
Personal health information (PHI) must be protected at all times, and that is where HIPAA compliance in the pharmaceutical field is critical. HIPAA stands for the Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA went into effect in 1996, and this federal law makes it a requirement for everyone working with protected health information to ensure it is kept confidential. That includes the pharmaceutical industry, which regularly goes through patient information.
HIPAA regulations have been designed to ensure healthcare professionals have access to the information they need without leaving it vulnerable to bad actors. As a pharmaceutical provider, it is important for you to make sure you comply with all HIPAA rules and regulations.
Under HIPAA, any type of information that could be used to identify the patients involved is protected. To ensure this information is protected, you should ensure everyone in your workplace is certified in HIPAA training and compliance. You should also make sure you have measures in place to detect potential data breaches.
A few examples of information covered under PHI include:
- The names of patients and the names of the people involved in the treatment plan
- Contact information for patients, including e-mail addresses and telephone numbers
- Social Security numbers, patient account numbers, medical record numbers, and fax numbers
- The physical address of the patient, including street names, city names, and zip codes
- Information related to transport services, including license plate numbers, drivers license numbers, and vehicle identification numbers
- Images of the patient that include their face
- Information on blood types, fingerprints, and any other biometric identifiers
Those who work in the pharmaceutical industry come across this information regularly. It is important to ensure all of this information is protected and all of it falls under the category of HIPAA.
Why This Information Is So Attractive To Hackers
When taking a look at the information above, many people are wondering why it is so attractive to hackers and criminals. The biggest reason why this information is attractive is that it could help them get access to financial information. It is not unusual for people who visit the pharmacy or the hospital to use bank account information, credit cards, and Social Security numbers.
If a hacker can get their hands on a medical record and other types of identifying information, they could use this information to steal financial credentials. Then, they can commit identity theft and steal money from patients. Because this information is so attractive, the pharmaceutical industry is responsible for protecting this confidential information.
In addition to identity theft, it is not unusual for patients to visit the pharmacy for sensitive reasons. For example, if someone can figure out what medications somebody else is taking, they might be able to extrapolate information related to a sensitive medical condition. This information could be potentially exploitative, and that is why pharmacists and other healthcare providers are required to protect the confidential information of patients.
How the Pharmaceutical Industry Can Protect This Information
Even though it is important for pharmacists to be able to transfer confidential healthcare information to other members of the treatment team, it is also important to ensure this information is protected. There are a few important tips that pharmacists and other medical providers should follow to ensure patient information is protected.
Some of the most important points to keep in mind include:
1. Educate All Employees About the Importance of Cybersecurity
First, it is important to make sure that all employees are educated. There is a saying that a castle is only as strong as its weakest wall, and in a lot of cases, that refers to the employees.
There are a lot of employees who do not realize just how easy it is to get their hands on sensitive information. For example, some of your employees could fall victim to a phishing attack, which takes place when someone tries to steal someone else’s login credentials by posing as an authority figure.
The best way to deal with this issue is to prevent it from happening in the first place. If pharmacists and technology professionals educate everyone about what a phishing attack looks like, everyone will participate in the defense of confidential information.
It is also important for people to take refresher courses from time to time. Just as the pharmaceutical field changes, the technology field changes as well. Everyone needs to stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats.
2. Take Advantage of Granular User Roles and Permissions
Granular user roles and permissions are an important part of protecting confidential information. Granular permissions allow you to control exactly which files someone has access to. This is not necessarily an all-or-nothing solution.
There are a few people who might need to have access to all files. On the other hand, there are plenty of people who might only need access to a few files to do their jobs. If someone does not need access to those files to do their jobs, they should not be given permission to access them.
This does not necessarily reflect a lack of trust in the person, but it does reflect smart risk management. What happens if that person has his or her login credentials stolen? You do not want the criminal to have access to all of the files on the server, and that is why granular user roles and permissions are crucial to protection.
3. Ensure Everyone Has a Strong Password
In addition, everyone who works in the pharmaceutical field must have a strong password. A password is usually your first line of defense, and you need to make it as strong as possible. There are far too many people who try to design a password to make it easy to remember. This completely goes against the point of having a password in the first place.
There are plenty of strong password management tools that can make sure everyone has an adequate password. For example, you should make sure that whatever password you use is long enough to make it nearly impossible to guess using a brute-force attack. Also, encourage people to use passwords that have both letters and numbers in them. You might also want to encourage people to use special symbols in their passwords.
Finally, you should also encourage everyone to change their passwords from time to time. For example, you might want to encourage people to change their password once per quarter. That way, if their password has been stolen without them knowing it, the criminal will not have access to those files in perpetuity, even through a Single sign-on (SSO) portal.
4. Take Advantage of Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is critical if you want to ensure all confidential information is protected. Two-factor authentication means that it requires two separate sets of credentials to access certain files. For example, if you remember your username and password combination, you might need to follow this up with a text message confirmation, a fingerprint scan, or some other type of security measure.
The entire purpose of two-factor authentication is to protect people who may have had their username or password stolen. Just because someone steals a username or password doesn’t mean they should immediately get access to everything. With two-factor authentication, you can make sure that your confidential information is protected.
5. Use an Encrypted Solution
Today, end-to-end encryption is critical, particularly with telemedicine growing as a form of medical care. Typically, when you transmit information from place to place, it is encrypted when it leaves, and it is encrypted when it arrives at its destination. It is not often encrypted when it is in transit. This means that the information is vulnerable, and you must make sure it is adequately protected.
You do not want to leave your information vulnerable to a man-in-the-middle attack. When you are looking at solutions that can help you transfer files from place to place, make sure they are encrypted for the entirety of their journeys.
6. Take Advantage of Notifications
Finally, you should also set up notifications for specific types of files in your pharmacy. For example, if you know there is sensitive information that could be attractive to hackers, you should set up a notification system to let you know when someone accesses the information.
Activity reporting is essential. With activity reporting, you can take a look at who is accessing certain pieces of information, what changes have been made, and what people are doing with that information. Then, if you notice something unusual, you can deal with it quickly, preventing someone from gaining access to other types of sensitive information. Knowledge is power, and you need to use activity reporting to stay up to date on everything that is happening.
SmartFile Can Help You Keep Your Pharmacy in Compliance
Clearly, there are a lot of important factors you need to keep in mind when you are looking for a file-sharing solution for your pharmacy. That is where SmartFile can help you.
There are a number of significant advantages you will enjoy if you decide to put SmartFile to work for you. They include:
- With SmartFile, you can ensure that your file sharing solution meets all of the requirements put in place by the United States government, particularly as it relates to HIPAA, electronic health data requirements, and privacy rules.
- You get access to end-to-end encryption, ensuring that all of your files are appropriately protected as they are traveling from place to place.
- You are also in total control of granular permissions. You can control exactly which files someone has access to.
- There are plenty of reporting features that can ensure you do not lose track of how certain files are being used.
- You do not have to worry about running into a limit on the sizes of certain files you can transfer from place to place.
- You also get access to file versioning, allowing you to track changes that are being made.
- You get access to the latest security measures, which can help you protect your confidential information.
For all of these reasons, if you are looking for a comprehensive file-sharing solution that makes it easy to share information with your healthcare team while also protecting that information from harm, you need to put SmartFile to work for you.
Put SmartFile To Work for You Today
In the pharmaceutical industry, file transfer, security, and storage solutions are more important than they have ever been in the past. At SmartFile, it would be our pleasure to handle all of your file transfer and storage needs. Our experts are always available to help you manage your confidential information. Contact us today to get the process started!