Backup Solutions for Healthcare: What to Look For
by Bridget.Giacinto, on Feb 9, 2024 8:30:00 AM
In the healthcare industry, special attention needs to be paid to the security and protection of patients’ private and highly sensitive electronic medical records. Healthcare providers are held to a higher standard regarding the backup, encryption, and retention of electronic medical records. These regulations were implemented to protect the confidentiality of patients who put their trust into their doctors’ hands. This trust in the doctor-patient relationship is of paramount importance, and any breach of that confidentiality is simply unacceptable. As a result, there are strict data protection standards that were put in place to ensure the privacy and security of patient data.
The Beginnings of HIPAA
In 1996, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) was enacted by the United States Congress and later provisioned to establish national standards for the security and privacy of patients’ data. This legislation and the updates that followed called for healthcare professionals to take the necessary actions to ensure that electronic protected health information (ePHI) was kept private and secure in full compliance with HIPAA regulations.
As a result, medical and dental healthcare providers must stay abreast of these ever-changing requirements for data protection. Noncompliance is not an option, as the penalties are substantial and carry stiff fines. For many small practices, this can be a daunting task, especially if they do not have fully-informed personnel dedicated to establishing proper policies and procedures or the IT staff to ensure that backups and retention settings are properly set up in compliance with regulatory requirements.
This opens up a huge opportunity for specialized medical and dental-focused resellers and backup software providers who are willing to provide their data protection expertise and knowledge of HIPAA requirements to assist these offices with their data protection, security, and retention needs.
Top 9 Things to Look for in
Backup Solutions for Healthcare
If you would like to work directly with a backup solutions provider, here are a few things that you want to look for in a backup solution for healthcare.
- HIPAA Compliance
Backup, encryption, data retention, and recovery requirements are the backbone of HIPAA compliance. Look for a solution that offers HIPAA-compliant data protection by securely backing up, encrypting, retaining, and restoring data without compromising patient privacy.
- Secure Data Protection for Backups With 256-bit Encryption
To ensure that backups of your files and systems are protected from unauthorized access, they should be encrypted both on the backup media and in transit, ideally with one of the highest encryption standards, such as 256-bit AES encryption.
- Ability to Restore to Dissimilar Hardware in the Event of a Disaster
If your PC or server fails, you need to be able to restore your entire system, including applications, operating system, and settings, to another piece of hardware so you can get back to helping your patients quickly. To speed up this process, you should also be able to mount your system as a virtual machine. This will save you long boot times in an emergency.
- Flexible Data Retention to Meet Regulatory Demands
The best practice for data retention for ePHI is 7 years, although HIPAA only requires 6 years according to LMN Matters (cms.gov). You want to have a solution that offers flexible data retention so you can decide exactly what you need to keep and for how long - and that on a per-file basis.
- Easy, User-Friendly Data Recovery
Your backup is only as good as its ability to restore your files. Your backup solution should allow you to make multiple copies so that you can recover your files and systems in the event of data loss from accidental deletion of individual files to hardware failures and natural disasters that render your office inaccessible. It's also important to regularly test the recovery of your backups so that you know how to restore your data in an emergency.
- Real-time Reporting and Email Alerts to Validate Backup Job Status
You should be able to know the status of your backups no matter where you are. Make sure you have the flexibility to configure alerts and email notifications. Even better, you should be able to set alerts for each backup job, as well as a daily, weekly, or monthly summary report.
- Simple Licensing Structure That Protects All Your Data
Avoid managing multiple licenses for plug-ins and add-ons. Check with the vendor to see if you can secure physical and virtual server systems and typical applications such as practice software, SQL, and Exchange with a single license and application.
- Local Support With the Knowledge to Provide Technical Assistance
When you need technical support, the last thing you need is boilerplate answers from untrained overseas call center agents. Find out where your backup support team is located and find a solution with a competent local support team that understands your environment and your situation.
- Installation and Backup Setup to Ensure Proper Configuration
In most small practices, if there is no IT service provider, the person who knows the most about the technology is an experienced staff member who is usually not an IT specialist. No one expects this person to know everything, especially when it comes to backup. When you find a company like NovaBACKUP to install and configure your backup solution, you can be sure that everything is installed and configured properly from day one.
For more information about NovaBACKUP for Medical Practices, click here.
If you have any questions about backing up your patient data, please contact us. We are always happy to help.