Interoperability in healthcare refers to how different software and data storage systems, including the customer relationship management systems, content management systems, and even billing systems work together in a compatible and secure way. Interoperability in healthcare systems not only help ensure HIPAA compliance for medical providers and their business associates, but can also lead to advances in patient care and medical technology.
As the healthcare community moves toward increased digitization, interoperability of systems becomes crucial for HIPAA compliance. Cybersecurity and interoperability work hand in hand to protect patient data, ensure compliance, and lead to innovation in both systems and patient care. Let’s explore the importance of cybersecurity and the role of a virtual data room as we enter the future of healthcare.
What Interoperability Means for the Future of Healthcare
Interoperability in healthcare facilitates the easy and secure exchange of not just individualized patient data (PHI) and electronic health records (EHR) but of broad-based data that can lead to advances in pharmaceuticals, treatment plans and medical technology.
Interoperability, Improved Patient Care and Other Benefits
An article published in 2019 in the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health cites interoperability in healthcare as a key factor in the following:
- Improved medical communication between providers and from providers to patients
- Advances in AI and big data analysis for more accurate test results
- Enhanced research
- International cooperation
Since the global pandemic, the need for this type of interconnectivity has never been so clear. When systems permit the secure, seamless transfer of data, it reduces the chance of medical errors due to miscommunication and offers healthcare providers the chance to see a patient’s “big picture” in a clear-cut way. Interoperability in medicine can also help break down geographic barriers to provide better quality healthcare even to patients in rural, remote or lower income regions.
Cybersecurity Risks Related to Interoperability
Interoperability in healthcare can give healthcare providers (HCPs) great power to deliver a better quality of patient care. And since the pandemic, HCPs have made great strides in gaining easier access to patients’ records to provide better quality care, remote or in person. In a study conducted by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and KLAS Research, 67 percent of providers said they “often” or “nearly always” had access to patient records in 2020, compared to 2017, when only 28 percent said the same.
With access to EHRs collected across disparate healthcare facilities, HCPs can better view a patient’s overall health, make assessments, and create treatment plans based on more data. However, as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. And interoperability in healthcare can open doors to cybersecurity risks that may not exist if all PHI remains within a single provider’s system.
To ensure HIPAA compliance and preserve the security of patient data, HCPs must ensure that their exchange partners adhere to the same security standards they do before agreeing to exchange healthcare information across networks. This begins with network security for the secure transmission of data but extends to data storage as well. Exchange partners should show that their storage methods are not just HIPAA compliant, but also ISO 27001 certified and AICPA SOC 2 certified when it comes to patient financial data.
Security measures should include world-class data encryption for both incoming and outgoing data, multiple firewalls within the data center, and real-time monitoring and management provided by the data center. Daily backups, 99.9 percent network uptime, and malware mitigation are also crucial for the security and preservation of PHI.
The Problem with Many Cloud Storage Solutions
Many cloud storage solutions, such as Drobox, Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive, may provide the basics in cybersecurity protection to meet HIPAA requirements. They might be willing to sign a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement, which is required in order for healthcare providers and business associates to use a service for the storage and transmission of PHI.
But that doesn’t mean these storage methods are secure, especially if the users don’t adhere to specific standards, such as establishing 2-factor authentication, limiting permissions, and even keeping digital or manual logs of anyone who accessed the data.
How a Virtual Data Room Can Enhance Interoperability in Healthcare
Interoperability in healthcare means making the secure transmission of PHI easier. Virtual data rooms have features in place that other cloud storage solutions lack. Digital rights management makes it easy to ensure that only the appropriate personnel can view EHRs. Permission can be granted and revoked at any time, even after files have been downloaded. Caplinked also provides easy version control and a digital paper trail of who has viewed, downloaded or edited files, so there is no room for human error when it comes to tracking patient health data.
Caplinked does not require plug-ins and is easy to use. HCPs on the receiving end of files do not need their own Caplinked account to view files securely. Organizations on any platform that stores patient data and financial records can use Caplinked to transmit files securely within or outside their organization to exchange partners, facilitating the exchange of patient data quickly and securely for better patient outcomes and enhanced collaboration among providers.
See How Caplinked Is Leading the Future of Interoperability in Healthcare
With ISO-certified cloud storage, digital rights management, and a platform-agnostic, cloud-based storage system, Caplinked delivers the features today’s healthcare providers need for the safe and secure exchange of patient data. We live in a connected world, and that connectivity has only increased since the pandemic. HCPs can now work together seamlessly for better patient outcomes, regardless of geographic location or the digital healthcare management systems they use.
Sign up for your free Caplinked trial today and see how easy it is to maintain digital security within your organization while embracing interoperability in healthcare.
Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing expert specializing in technology, business and finance.
IBM Watson Health – What Is Interoperability in Healthcare?
NCBI.NLM.Nih.gov – Why digital medicine depends on interoperability