The health care sector is one of the most document-rich industries in the world, as medical facilities must collect and store a wealth of personal information to help ensure positive patient outcomes. From simple forms to sensitive medical histories, health care providers are in near constant contact with patient data, mainly through electronic health record platforms. But keeping these documents protected from unauthorized individuals has been a significant pain point throughout the industry, especially considering the strict regulations and laws governing patient privacy.

While the adoption of electronic document management systems has been a net positive for most health care organizations, it also comes with a few notable risks. According to the latest report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, the health care industry had the second-largest number of data breaches in 2018, along with the highest rate of exposure per breach. Preventing large-scale cybersecurity incidents has been a focus for medical providers in a variety of patient care settings, but now that digital recordkeeping has become the new norm, greater attention must be paid to the integrity of their management practices.

Protecting patient information
Generally speaking, the more document management solutions a health care provider uses, the wider their attack surface. This is especially true when patient records are stored across several different repositories, as detecting breaches can be difficult without centralized monitoring capabilities. As pointed out by a recent article from the University of Illinois, health information management is all about controlling the flow of patient data across all file sharing platforms and public-facing web portals. Of course, failing to uphold best practices can not only lead to stolen records, it can also attract the attention of the Department of Health and Human Services and may result in HIPAA violations and costly fines.

Best practices in health record management
Insulating patient records from unauthorized parties and cybercriminals starts with a complete assessment of a medical facility's document management solutions. More specifically, maintaining the integrity of sensitive information often requires customizable features that allow caregivers to upload, edit and flag documents in real time, according to the American Health Information Management Association. This partially accounts for why cloud-based recordkeeping platforms have become so popular with medical facilities. Now that cybercrime is on the rise, health care providers must pay careful attention to how their document management systems affect their workflows and what vulnerabilities may impact their patients' well-being.