Protecting confidential patient data in the healthcare sector is of vital importance

The healthcare industry is a particularly attractive data breach target due the amount of sensitive information it holds not just on patients, but also the NHS is the UKs largest employer. So it’s of no surprise that data protection is one of the leading concerns for healthcare IT decision makers. Healthcare orgabizations often experience some kind of cyber security incident. The healthcare sector holds important patient data and has a need to securely share data across departments and external organizations to facilitate excellent patient care. 

How ISO 27001 information security management systems certification can help.

ISO 27001 is an internationally acknowledged management system standard for information security. It is a rigorous process which helps healthcare providers identify and assess the risks and takes steps to mitigate them. 

ISO 27001 gives assurance to suppliers. Often businesses will insist on providers filling in long questionnaires, reviews and detailed overviews of their IT security policies but having an ISO 27001 certification in place establishes instant credibility and will often negate these kinds of questions. 

Some of the aspects of the ISO 27001 which are of relevance to the healthcare sector include:

Confidentiality 

Develop controls to ensure sensitive information (patient data, lab reports etc.) can only be accessed and used by those with correct authorization. Take preventative measures to ensure that sensitive information doesn’t fall into the hands of the wrong people, simultaneously ensuring that the right people can access it. Create policies that restrict access only to those authorized to view the data in question. You should emphasize that having an ISO 27001 certification shows to patients, stakeholders and other interested parties that an organization is providing evidence that confidentiality is key to their business practices.

Integrity 

Ensure that data is stored correctly by maintaining the consistency, accuracy, and trustworthiness of data over its entire life cycle. Ensure that data cannot be changed in transit, utilise policies and security controls to ensure that data cannot be altered by those not authorized to do so. Basically, locking down access to information proves that it’s not tampered with and consistent.

Availability 

Urgent access to patient information is crucial for medical personnel in order to maintain safety and ensure that medical treatment is based on precise data. You could use some scare tactics here by mentioning that failing to provide necessary patient or medical information can, in worst case, result in lives lost. IT systems are the key to storing and accessing patient data, as well as enabling medical research to thrive. An efficient management system will always help an organization to ensure patient safety by using measures to safeguard their data and guarantee it’s available.


What steps you can take towards ISO 27001 certification

 Any organization can begin the process of obtaining ISO 27001 certification. This should include:  

  • Reading the standard and familiarizing yourself with the contents. Thinking about how the standard applies to your organization
  • Identifying all legal regulations that apply (GDPR etc.)
  • Identifying information assets. This includes all IT systems and patient data, but also conceptual assets such as the reputation of the organization
  • Gaining commitment from top management. This is essential to becoming certified as top management must be involves in the process and continual assessment and improvement of the information security strategy. They should communicate with all colleagues about what their responsibilities are with regards to information security. There can be a tendency to focus on IT, but it’s not just the IT team’s responsibility
  • Performing a risk assessment to understand risks that could affect their business, plus how they would mitigate these risks with security controls
  • Finally, engage with BM TRADA certification experts to get the ball rolling.

Learn more about ISO 27001

Click here to contact a BM TRADA certification expert who will guide you through the process.

We offer a wide range of management systems training courses