Security measures protect health care supply chain

Health care is a large industry. Doctors, nurses and patients aren't the only ones who can be found in hospitals and doctors' offices. There are also various pharmaceutical representatives, technology service providers, insurers, hospital management staff and office maintenance workers, among others. The medical supply chain is a long one. However, with so many people coming in and out of these facilities, hospitals and practices need protocols to keep everyone safe both physically and digitally.

Background checks keep patients and providers safe
Unless someone's a permanent staff member, it can be hard to recognize people coming in and out of a health care facility. The day-to-day visitors, staff rotations and patients are always changing, and this can lead to a relaxed security system. Unfortunately, when this happens, these facilities are putting both patients and medical professionals at risk. If people who are entering cannot be trusted, then there could be problems regarding safety, Supply Chain Digital contributor Chris Luoma explained.

This can also cause compliance issues, as many government organizations have guidelines in place to protect patients and health care providers from outside dangers. According to Luoma, managers at medical facilities can only do business with credentialed vendors, which means they could face penalties if they choose the wrong ones. Uncertified businesses may prove to be untrustworthy, and if they have access to patient and staff records, they could put people at risk. When they pick companies that follow all rules and regulations, health care providers can protect patients and the business, receive reimbursements from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and comply with all guidelines.

To make these decisions, hospitals and private physicians' practices need in-depth information about individual vendors before purchasing any supplies, Luoma explained. They must know who is certified and who isn't. They can get these details from government organizations, but they should also maintain their own records. This will have all the companies they have done business with and will let them know which ones to be wary of. All of these details should be kept in one shared document or folder so that everyone in the the facility can have access to it. 

Internet increases risks for health care facilities 
Medical facilities face potential threats from both their vendors and Internet users. Since former U.S. President George W. Bush announced the move to electronic health records in 2008, patient information may be ripe for the taking. EHRs make it easier for various organizations to share data, but it can also open up these documents to hackers, DOTmed contributor Kurt Mueffelmann claimed.

Health care services need to ensure their online security is completely updated and that policies are in place in the event of a cyberattack. According to Mueffelmann, certain software have capabilities aside from basic virus protection that help monitor electronic safety. The auditing and reporting features scan documents and compliance guidelines and alerts officials if there are any discrepancies in their systems. Files can also be classified based on its need for privacy, and then either restricted or encrypted to ensure only authorized people can open them.

Hospitals, doctors' offices, insurance providers and vendors have access to an abundance of private information about facility functions, staff and patient data, and security. Without the proper measures being taken in the supply chain, these places can put people's personal data at risk. When various protocols are in place both physically and online, medical facilities can be safer for everyone.

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