The tech factor has never been more relevant. It’s the philosophy that technology drives successful businesses of all kinds—yes, even aged care facilities. Instead of advertising a specific platform for aged care, we want to share with you some information to help choose one yourself (and stay safe when using it).
What Are Aged Care Platforms?
Aged care platforms are software tools developed specifically for use in the aged care industry. They’re designed to help you handle patient information, keep track of medication schedules, and similar essential tasks. Furthermore, utilising yours to its fullest extent will help you remain ACFI-compliant and ensure continued funding for your facility.
Best practice basically requires the use of an aged care platform. For both operational and security reasons, this genre of software is not only a good investment—it’s necessary.
What Do I Need To Know About Aged Care Software?
I’m concerned about patient data security. What do I need to know about how to use aged care software? The first and perhaps most important thing to keep in mind will be user credentials. When using an aged care platform, it is essential that you’re guided by the principle of role-based access, which means that nobody has access to any accounts that aren’t required to fulfil their official job function.
The rule of thumb for role-based access is, “The less access, the better.” Remember, this doesn’t mean you don’t trust your employees. People make mistakes, and when someone is exposed to a security threat, any data they access also becomes exposed. You can mitigate the risk of losing sensitive data to malicious third parties by limiting everyone’s access to their specific roles.
There is a bare minimum security standard that everyone should conform to, and that’s taking care of the basics: complex passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA). These are the easiest, crucial steps you should take toward securing your data. (For more information, this article goes further into detail about authentication and password security.)
As we often say, security is organisational. In other words, it takes everybody working together to keep company data safe, so both your IT team and your managers should be involved in your security strategy.
You should also audit and review users periodically. If someone leaves the organisation, suspend or remove those credentials immediately. If somebody new begins at the organisation, take care to grant only essential, role-based access to that individual. If someone changes roles within the organisation, you’re looking at a combination of both actions. There should be no loose ends in terms of security when such transitions are taking place.
How Do I Choose An Aged Care Solution?
We wish this were more clear-cut, but since it’s a complex process, you will have to be thorough. We’ve previously talked about gap analysis and understanding the end-user perspective on potential software solutions, as well as basic considerations like price point and site size (or number of sites). In addition to these things, make sure you know the physical computing requirements you’re up against. If your IT infrastructure can’t handle a certain product, you have the choice to either upgrade your systems or select a different aged care platform.
Finally, poor data input yields poor data output, so training is actually one of the most important aspects of implementing a new aged care solution. Whatever platform you end up purchasing, make sure your employees are well enough trained that they can comfortably and properly utilise it.
Have There Been Any Major Security Breaches In The Aged Care Industry?
Unfortunately, yes. Recently, the Australian Cyber Security Centre notified major aged care providers that an unnamed facility had become the victim of a ransomware attack. (Ransomware is a type of malware used to steal data for ransom at the threat of publishing that data to the dark web. You can read more about the types of cyber threats out there in this article.)
As you can imagine, this is foreboding news for aged care providers, who are responsible for protecting a wealth of sensitive patient data. The ACSC also published a statement warning that the Maze ransomware is being increasingly used in targeted attempts against the aged care industry—so we may yet see more attacks.
How Can I Keep Patient Data Safe From Breaches?
The good news is you’re not powerless. There are a number of things you can do, both to prevent attacks and to control the damage after an attack.
First, the ACSC advises users to never pay a ransom. This is primarily because it only gives the cyber criminal more reason to keep targeting you, opening you up to more attacks. But even worse, paying the ransom does not guarantee the safety of your data anyway. They may well have already sold it by the time you pay up.
Minding the Essential Eight can go a long way in preventing security incidents from occurring. However, if you’ve already been targeted by a cyber criminal, it’s best to notify authorities who can properly intervene. The ACSC recommends that “if Australian organisations are infected by the Maze ransomware, they should seek assistance in the first instance from the ACSC via 1300 CYBER1.” Beyond that, you may even consider contacting law enforcement.
Club IT’s advice: Make sure cyber security is a part of your internal auditing process and that your budget makes room for continuous improvement via system upgrades, software and training. Last, but not least, we implore you to consult with a qualified IT professional before buying a new aged care platform, especially if you have any cyber security concerns. Club IT is here for you and can always be reached at 1300 788 874.