How Data Stewardship Protects Healthcare Organizations


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Healthcare is responsible for securing some of the most confidential data and is therefore one of the most at risk for security incidents. Between human error and third-party infiltration, healthcare seems vulnerable to sensitive data incidents at every turn. In the past 10 years, healthcare has paid the highest data breach fines when compared to other industries, according to the Cost of a Data Breach Report by the Ponemon Institute. 

With so much control over sensitive medical and financial data, healthcare organizations have a responsibility to keep this information secure. Managing processes, monitoring access, ensuring compliance — it’s not easy to take accountability for the data lifecycle at your organization. 

Thankfully, you can solve many of these challenges by practicing better data stewardship.

The Role of Data Stewardship in Healthcare

Data stewardship is a comprehensive approach to the collection, use, and confidentiality of personal data. This process demands fairness, transparency, and relevancy when collecting data, as well as compliance with legal and security protocols like HIPAA. 

Data stewardship is meant to protect the privacy of individuals and ensure that their data is not misused or mishandled. Often, data stewardship involves security measures like data encryption, secure IT systems and processes, and strong access controls. 

Data stewardship is a big responsibility that healthcare organizations should not take lightly. By embracing data stewardship practices, your organization can ensure the best possible security for the individuals who are putting their data into your care.

4 Ways Data Stewardship Keeps Healthcare Data Safe

Ensuring the careful, responsible, and compliant handling of data is crucial in healthcare. Your organization is responsible for managing data that has been entrusted to you by patients, partners, and the community. Practicing data stewardship is the first step in safeguarding the healthcare data under your control. Here is how data stewardship helps protect your healthcare organization.

1. Promoting Responsible Data Collection

Data stewardship is not just about collecting data and ensuring its security, but also about ensuring that data is collected fairly and transparently. For example, when collecting personal data, the individual must be informed of the purpose, how long your organization will store the data, and how the data will be used. 

Responsible data collection also requires that these practices are relevant to the purpose for which the data is collected. Gathering only the data you need has double benefits. It minimizes the risk of unnecessary data being misused, lost, or hacked. It also creates a better experience for individuals. Online forms that only ask for relevant information can help individuals trust that your organization is being responsible with their data.

2. Governing Access to Sensitive PHI

Human error due to employee negligence is still one of the biggest contributing factors to data breaches. What’s worse, this error is often due to weak usernames and passwords. Data stewardship policies help promote minimizing access to sensitive data to only certain employees. 

Good identity management offers the extra layer of security that helps prevent an employee-caused data breach. As part of your data stewardship policies, setting data security and access controls can help reduce liability and noncompliance with regulations like HIPAA. These controls can involve limiting authorization and ensuring strong authentication when accessing sensitive data.

3. Ensuring Data Quality 

Data spread across many disparate systems cannot be easily accessed, controlled, or secured. One goal of data stewardship is to ensure that the data your healthcare organization collects is high-quality and serves its purpose for as long as needed. This requires that your organization has an equally high-quality data collection system and policies in place to promote data integrity from the moment an individual fills out your healthcare form.

While minimizing data access is a best practice, it’s also important that the data is accessible and usable for the right employees. A secure data collection platform with Salesforce integration such as FormAssembly helps make this possible. Once you have established data stewardship policies around data collection, FormAssembly provides a HIPAA-compliant solution for gathering this data and automatically importing it to Salesforce.

4. Maintaining Data Security and Compliance

One of the core tenets of data stewardship is security. But all tenets of data stewardship — including lawfulness, transparency, fairness, and relevancy — will help improve your organization’s security, compliance, and risk management strategies. Data stewardship policies should reflect how your organization takes control of the data collected, minimizes data security threats, and improves compliance with data privacy regulations.

>> Watch Now: 5 Steps to Implement Data Stewardship at Your Organization <<

Another core part of data stewardship is fostering a culture of compliance at your healthcare organization. Awareness of your security and confidentiality practices can help empower employees to better care for the data entrusted to your organization. Regular cybersecurity training also gives individuals the knowledge they need to actively protect their digital identities and spot threats, both of which can help minimize data breach risks for your organization.

Take a Step Toward Secure Data Collection

Data stewardship can have a positive impact on all the data collection practices and policies at your healthcare organization. Find out how FormAssembly’s data collection platform makes it possible to keep Salesforce data collection secure and compliant.

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