The pandemic hit healthcare hardest, but these painful changes ushered in a new era of digitization that could lead to better care for all. Along with increasing challenges in patient safety comes further difficulties in another important function of the healthcare industry: data backup and protection.
As a healthcare provider IT, you have patient information that you're required by law to protect via HIPAA. Luckily, many software providers such as Google and Microsoft 365 have built-in controls that keep your electronic protected health information (ePHI) data secure. While Microsoft 365 and Google both offer HIPAA compliance within their software, IT Managers know that even all these controls aren't a guarantee when it comes to protecting against data loss.
What to consider when developing healthcare cloud backup plan
Data backup plans and disaster recovery plans are required under the HIPAA Security Rule. But what happens if your cloud providers fail to retrieve the data you've lost? What happens next?
Today, 33 percent of businesses have reported losing data stored in cloud-based solutions.
Aside from requirements of the law, implementing robust backup and disaster recovery plans can help keep your business running smoothly and securely. Your data backup plan should consist of establishing and implementing procedures to create and maintain retrievable, exact copies of ePHI, something your cloud providers may not always provide as easily.
Why Microsoft 365 backup isn’t enough
We’ve found that Microsoft is often the preferred vendor of choice in healthcare, and while Microsoft 365 and Google tout backup features in their software this, unfortunately, does not comply with the fundamental rules of backup. A backup plan is deemed successful only when it follows the 3-2-1 rule for data storage:
- Keep at least three copies of the data
- Store it on at least two different forms of media
- Keep one of those backups in an independent location offsite
By storing backup data within Google or Microsoft's own storage center, your backup is insecure as it violates rule number 3. In short, cloud providers won’t always protect you. There are a number of ways your data could be deleted forever: that’s why you need a backup.
Automated SaaS backup systems like Backupify, can make a big difference in preventing data loss, and save your company thousands should a data breach occur. When developing a HIPAA data backup plan, organizations need to consider all areas data could be lost - be it through human error deletion, administrative error, or ransomware.
These include, among others:
1. Patient account information in emails
Patient accounting systems, electronic medical records, health maintenance and case management information, digital recordings of diagnostic images, electronic test results... if this information were lost or corrupted, it would cripple your organization. While not all of this information may be stored in cloud providers like Microsoft 365, it's safe to assume that some of that private information will be present in email exchanges.
2. Chat messages in Teams between providers and patients
Patients and care provider chat messages are littered with sensitive information that you can't be sure is protected via native backup features. Should a medical malpractice suit be filed and chat messages are deleted, you as an administrator will need a quick and easy way to find these messages again.
In addition, any misstep that causes the inability to access data — like accidental data deletion — can add hours in administrative tasks and cost healthcare companies a considerable amount of money. So data that is secured and backed up must be capable of being recovered (i.e., must be recoverable or retrievable) easily for compliance sake, and for your own sanity.
3. OneDrive files or images shared between patients and caregivers
Any doctor's notes or internal collaborative documents are also subject to data deletion alongside exchanged data between patient and care provider. As chat messages capture and store images and files within OneDrive, it's not always clear what sensitive and private information may be in danger of loss should a deletion event occur. Ensure you have a way to retrieve this data quickly and easily.
Cloud backup and recovery
Data backup is an essential part of any health care organization’s technology strategy. Since no one can predict the next crisis, consider data backup for medical professionals a cyber-healthy way for all medical practices to survive.
You deserve an experienced cloud backup provider that will be there to not only provide solid, consistent backups, but simple, seamless recovery. From a lost file to a daunting data deletion event, your backup provider should be there to support you through the data recovery process when you need to recover fast.
Turning to vendors like Backupify with extensive SaaS-focused backup expertise ensures your information stays protected.
Don't have a Microsoft 365 backup today? Try a free demo.