The Importance of Data Destruction for Health Information Technology
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The Importance of Data Destruction for Health Information Technology

The healthcare sector faces numerous challenges, and data security is undoubtedly becoming a prime concern. Studies have shown that an estimated 1.76 breaches occurred daily in 2020. These figures will likely become more pronounced in the coming years, so embracing a proactive approach is essential.

While cybersecurity is often cited as one of the best ways to keep information safe, what about the role of data destruction? Electronic storage devices have revolutionized the entire sector, yet they can lead to vulnerabilities if not disposed of correctly. What benefits can professional data destruction services provide, and what are some common methods used by professionals?

Boosting Brand Reputation

Any healthcare firm relies upon a loyal patient-based if it wishes to ensure future success. As the average client is becoming more aware of the threats associated with information theft, it only stands to reason that providers need to illustrate that they are remaining well ahead of the digital curve.

Companies must demonstrate that they care about privacy and that nothing is left to chance regarding safeguarding proprietary information. One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to highlight how data is destroyed when it is no longer required.

Offering a Peace of Mind to Patients

Offering a Peace of Mind to Patients

Quality healthcare is not only defined by what occurs within clinical settings. It also involves how professionals handle sensitive information. The issue here is that patient data will often contain sensitive details such as:

  • Full names and addresses
  • Next of kin
  • Clinical diagnoses
  • Billing information
  • Details about insurance carriers
  • Credit reports
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These and other metrics should never fall into the wrong hands. Healthcare providers capable of embracing the latest data destruction techniques are much more likely to be trusted by their patients. Therefore, long-term loyalty will never present an issue.

Legal Obligations

Healthcare providers and similar facilities must be legally obliged to destroy patient data to remain safe from unauthorized personnel. For example, many regulations state that information must be kept for a certain period. Once this time elapses, it needs to be correctly ablated from all records. Please note that this also includes any information that may be present within electronic devices.

While many firms may indeed focus upon the details found within databases and similar cloud storage systems, what about private information located in hard drives or stored within portable devices such as smartphones and tablets? How can this data be effectively destroyed? The most secure approach involves a process known as ITAD.

What Methods are Used to Destroy Patient Data?

What Methods are Used to Destroy Patient Data?

One common myth involves the belief that simply deleting a file is sufficient to remove data from a storage system. However, this is not the case. Information can still be accessed by anyone with technical expertise (such as hackers or third-party firms). One way to avoid these situations is to use an accredited ITAD (IT Asset Disposition) firm.

IT Asset Disposition is defined by a series of steps used to successfully (and permanently) destroy any unwanted information. This can be accomplished in a handful of ways, and the three most common are:

  • First, the data can be overwritten.
  • A device may be exposed to high levels of electromagnetic radiation to clear a hard drive (known as “degaussing”).
  • The physical device and its components can be shredded. This is arguably the most effective solution when applicable.
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The methods involved will depend upon the client’s needs and whether or not the device needs to be used in the future. For example, simply overwriting data will not destroy the device, while shredding a hard drive will render the unit unusable. It is therefore prudent to speak with a professional to learn about which approach is the most suitable.

A Growing Concern

As the healthcare industry embraces digital technology, it only stands to reason that information theft will present a growing challenge. Firms that do not take this observation seriously will place their operations and clients at risk. This is why appreciating the potential threats alongside the most effective solutions is critical in this day and age.

Not only will this guarantee that sensitive information is never compromised, but it illustrates that the firm cares about the privacy of its clients. An ounce of prevention can go a long way in this day and age, so it is crucial to contact a reputable ITAD firm to learn more about what services they are capable of offering.


Author bio: Eoin Pigott is a Business Development Associate for Wisetek, a global leader in IT Asset Disposition, Data Destruction, & IT Reuse.

The Importance of Data Destruction for Health Information Technology

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