The healthcare industry, like many other industries, are embracing the shift to digital. After all, consumers who interact continuously with brands across channels are also the patients that the healthcare industry aims to serve.
However, healthcare faces an added complexity that other industries don’t always encounter – stricter sets of privacy and compliance regulations when managing sensitive patient information.
Healthcare companies must develop secure data management systems to address these challenges. Customer data platforms (CDPs) are recognizing the growing demand for secure data management in the healthcare industry, and are increasingly offering solutions that address sensitive data concerns.
A Personalized Approach to Patient Care
Patients expect a personalized approach to healthcare, just like they expect personalized experiences in other areas of their lives. The data generated from digital experiences can help clinicians provide better care, and enable patients to take more control over their own healthcare. At the same time, these new data sources increase complexity because they make patient care non-linear, and more omnichannel.
There are benefits to patient engagement solutions that are personalized, digitized and preventative. Personalized communications with patients is believed to improve drug adherence and keep patients on track with their treatments. In addition, with features like next-best action and connected customer data, companies can identify and tailor the right content for hyper-personalized experiences at scale.
Handling Patient Data Securely
While data fuels patient engagement models, there are stringent HIPAA compliance requirements that healthcare and life science companies must follow. As the industry undergoes digital transformation, there are risks to patient data privacy, since high-value, sensitive and personal health information is stored digitally.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets national standards for the security and privacy of protected health information (PHI) that is stored, transmitted, or used by healthcare providers and insurers. The goal of HIPAA is to protect patients’ rights by establishing best practices and requirements for the handling, processing, sharing and security of healthcare data.
HIPAA gives patients certain rights to control their PHI, including the right to access, request changes to, and receive their health information. HIPAA violations can result in significant penalties and fines, including civil and criminal penalties. It’s an essential law that helps ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of patients’ health information, which is critical to maintaining trust in the healthcare system.
Under HIPAA, healthcare organizations that store or transmit PHI are referred to as “covered entities.” Examples of covered entities include health plans, healthcare providers and clinicians. HIPAA allows for certain scenarios in which covered entities need to disclose PHI to business associates that provide or support health services.
HIPAA requires covered entities and business associates to:
- Ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of all ePHI they create, receive, maintain, or transmit
- Identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information
- Protect against reasonably anticipated impermissible uses or disclosures
- Ensure compliance by their workforce
Patient Data Management with a CDP
In order to engage with patients under HIPAA, companies must obtain consent in order to actively manage PII and PHI for these activities.
Historically, healthcare and life sciences companies have relied on HIPAA-compliant CRM systems to manage healthcare provider and patient data. Customer data platforms (CDP) are relatively new entrants to this market.
But, buyer beware: not all CDPs are HIPAA compliant. HIPAA compliance is a designation that vendors must obtain in order to properly process and manage patient data. With the right designation, a CDP can be used to manage and analyze PHI to ensure it’s implemented with appropriate security measures and privacy controls.
CDP Capabilities with HIPAA Compliance
CDPs that have obtained HIPAA compliance are equipped with capabilities that can protect patient data in a safe, secure and effective way. Let’s consider four key capabilities.
Data Security & Privacy Controls
Lack of customer data controls poses a significant compliance and data security risk. A HIPAA-compliant CDP provides technical and physical safeguards to protect the PHI it stores and processes. It does this using encryption, secure data storage, and access controls.
To adhere to HIPAA regulations, PHI must only be used and disclosed with explicit consent from patients. To aid in managing the consent process, some CDPs have the capability to integrate with consent management platforms. This enables consent preferences to be integrated directly into unified customer profiles. With a CDP integrated with your consent management platform, you save time and money by automating the workflow that updates consent management changes across platforms and customer profiles.
Some CDPs also provide identity resolution and data masking to ensure that patient data is managed appropriately and securely. CDPs can store consent centrally and use it to ensure compliance across all connected downstream systems.
Governance, Risk and Compliance
Governance, risk, and compliance, also known as GRC, is a business strategy that covers an organization’s governance, enterprise risk management, and regulatory compliance. As part of GRC, data security teams perform gap analysis, centralize policies, identify misconfigurations, and monitor data to prevent data breaches. Establishing GRC policies is essential for reducing risk and maintaining data security.
Big data can help organizations identify and prevent security attacks, compromises and breaches. Organizations use big data analytics to protect sensitive information from malware, attackers, hackers, and cybercrime.
Here are four ways big data can be used to prevent cybersecurity attacks:
- Identify and prevent malware attacks quickly. By analyzing large data logs, you can uncover patterns, anomalies, and changes that indicate upcoming threats. Then, you can immediately trigger necessary actions to prevent the malware attack.
- Assess risks. If you regularly assess your data storage systems and access control systems, you can prevent data theft. Risk assessment helps identify system vulnerabilities, exposed databases, and potential threats. Armed with these insights, you can eliminate them before they cause a security issue.
- Integrate with cybersecurity technologies. Integrate big data with cybersecurity tools to achieve peace of mind. Third-party cybersecurity tools identify and prevent cyber threats and also offer features like report generation and predictive analytics.
- Prevent employee breaches. By collecting and analyzing employee activity data, you can identify unusual activity that may indicate an employee breach. For example, if an employee is repeatedly visiting websites that are marked as untrustworthy, or running unauthorized third-party code on company devices, you can investigate further and assess whether a data breach has occurred.
Keeping Patient Data Safe with a CDP
Patients expect a more personalized healthcare experience – by undergoing digital transformation, healthcare providers can make personalized healthcare a reality for patients. At the same time, regulations like HIPAA require providers to meet regulatory requirements in the treatment of PHI.
For healthcare and life sciences companies, it’s essential to find a vendor that is HIPAA compliant. CDPs that have obtained HIPAA compliance have capabilities that can protect patient data in a safe, secure and effective way via data security, privacy controls, data management and incident response. Ask prospective CDP vendors for documentation that provides details on how they achieve HIPAA compliance.
Learn more about how to evaluate the right CDP vendor for you with our CDP RFP guide and template.