Compliance Requirements In Nursing Home Cybersecurity

Nursing homes must follow various cybersecurity guidelines to protect employees and patients. With cyberattacks on the rise, they must ensure they stay compliant. From resident data to information storage, there are compliance requirements for many different areas.

Compliance Requirements for Nursing Homes

Here are the necessary compliance aspects of nursing home security.

Resident Data

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) updated its guidelines in 2022 to reflect changes to the healthcare cybersecurity landscape. It states all organizations must verify information ownership, alteration and maintenance, among other things.

Nursing homes must ensure their files are secure because cyber criminals know how valuable they are. In fact, over 75% of organizations in the healthcare industry have experienced a significant cybersecurity incident.

The NIST guidelines follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Security Rule, so compliance is necessary. Facilities should put thorough security measures in place if they haven’t already. For example, they could encrypt patient data, limit access and create secure backups.

Medical Devices

In March 2023, the United States Food and Drug Administration said all healthcare facilities must immediately comply with a law from 2022 to ensure the cybersecurity of medical devices. It outlined the importance of security, stating technology with an internet connection is usually much more vulnerable to attack.

For instance, their security weaknesses make it easier for attackers to get into critical systems. On top of this, they’re usually targets because the data they hold is incredibly valuable. Internet of Things (IoT) devices provide real-time updates to patient information, so cyber criminals often seek them out.

If facilities use these kinds of things, they must protect them by ensuring all medical wearables and IoT technology transmit information securely. To do this, they should regularly update their software and create a strong internet password. Courses in internet safety for seniors and asking them to alert staff if they notice unusual activity could also help.

Information Storage

Many nursing homes store resident data in digital systems. While it can save space and is usually much more affordable than paper, it poses unique nursing home security risks. If cyber criminals find a way in, they could steal sensitive information.

Healthcare facilities must strengthen their storage to keep everything safe. The cloud is one option many of them use. Since many service providers routinely update access-control systems to reflect changes in cybersecurity standards, they can feel confident in their compliance.

System Security

Cybercriminals commonly target nursing homes because they host a wealth of valuable employee and resident information. In fact, healthcare facilities experienced a 74% increase in cyberattacks from 2022 to 2023. They must strengthen their systems to protect against the rising number of cybersecurity incidents.

Multiple regulatory agencies have strict data security standards. As a result, an attack that results in a breach would be costly. Facilities should regularly update hardware and software, have password protection policies, and require every employee to use multi-factor authentication.

Even though a majority have these nursing home security measures in place, many only have them set up in certain areas. They need to roll them out throughout the organization to have proper cybersecurity. Management should encourage everyone to adopt the practices consistently.

Incident Reports

The Biden administration passed the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act, which mandates that facilities in the healthcare industry must report cyberattacks and incidents to the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency.

The requirements differ depending on location and facility type, but it’s essential for any organization in the healthcare industry. Nursing homes must inform the proper agency of a cybersecurity incident as soon as possible.

Data Sharing

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, all facilities must comply with HIPAA to protect patients. Nursing homes sometimes transfer resident data to other facilities or storage systems. While they can safely share or move it after deidentifying it, someone without authorization could still reidentify them with enough effort.

To better protect information when sharing it, they can constantly monitor the network for unusual activity. It can help them identify when someone attempts to access files without authentication. Technology like artificial intelligence can automatically do this job without human intervention.

Device Security

Even though 99% of healthcare facilities use spam protection software, they’re still vulnerable to complex phishing scams. Take social engineering attacks, for example — they often pose as a trusted individual or third party. Because they seem legitimate, staff members are more likely to fall for the scam.

In fact, the government recognizes social engineering as one of the top five threats to the healthcare industry in 2023. Nursing homes can protect against this attack type by training staff. They can have routine meetings to update everyone on the latest threats.

Also, they should focus on internet safety for seniors. The residents should understand how cybercriminals can compromise facility computers to stay safe. Introductory online safety courses could help.

Stay Secure for Compliance

Nursing home security is essential in the digital age. These facilities should carefully monitor every process and establish internet safety for seniors to keep residents knowledgeable. It’s crucial to remain aware as cyberattacks rise. Nursing homes must ensure resident and employee data stays secure.

Lavanya Rathnam

Lavanya Rathnam is an experienced technology, finance, and compliance writer. She combines her keen understanding of regulatory frameworks and industry best practices with exemplary writing skills to communicate complex concepts of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) in clear and accessible language. Lavanya specializes in creating informative and engaging content that educates and empowers readers to make informed decisions. She also works with different companies in the Web 3.0, blockchain, fintech, and EV industries to assess their products’ compliance with evolving regulations and standards.

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