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How Credentialing Protocols Can Boost Your Medical Practice Security

Gauge how secure your medical practice is

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Software systems work on the basis of credential protocols to function properly. Each command given is first run through an identification and authentication process before being executed on a code level. On a macro level, identification and authentication comes in the form of passwords, user IDs, biometric keys, and so on. These form the line of defense between authorized and unauthorized access to patient EHR data.

So how can these credentialing protocols improve the security of your medical practice?

First, they offer access controls that create information containers that remain on a need-to-know-only basis. For example, if the front office staff only needs to check in patients and schedule appointments, they may not need to have access to patient medical records that are available to the doctor. Through this form of access control, private or important information can be safeguarded.

User ID and authentication also generates activity logs. All activities carried out by a particular login are assumed to have been carried out by the owner of the login credentials. This leaves a digital trail that can be audited. This can be a huge help when monitoring how your staff uses the system and whether there may be room for improved use of the system.

Beyond passwords and pins, medical practices can also benefit from biometric credentials, which have been proven to be more fail-safe than other credentials. Biometrics refers to authentication techniques that rely on physical characteristics such as facial or fingerprint recognition. Uptake of security measures will likely increase because of the simplicity of swiping a finger versus typing a password every time you need to log in to the system. Investing in biometric credentials also means staff will not share their login details with their coworkers, which will translate into stronger security for practice systems.

Another consideration is staff credential revocation. When staff members leave a practice, it sometimes can take days, weeks, or even months before their credentials are revoked. This can present a significant threat to practice data. Consider a situation where an employee leaves disgruntled. What harm could they do if they decided to do something malicious? Because it’s impossible to predict this, it’s better to ensure that their credentials are being revoked the moment they leave.

Having a strong credentialing system will make it easy to discover any abuse of said systems and take any required course of action necessary. Just  be sure that all your staff use the systems in place in the right way.