It’s no surprise that data is a critical part of the health insurance industry. Insurance providers use consumer data to underwrite risks and provide plans that offer the most favorable benefits. But this data is very sensitive and must be protected. While laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protect health information kept by healthcare providers and health plans, some organizations do not have to follow these laws. Some examples of health information not protected by HIPAA include information shared over mobile apps, social media or health-related online communities, such as message boards.
Brokers should help keep their client's data secure and ensure they understand the importance of cyber security. Here are three vital data privacy tips brokers can share with their clients to help keep their information safe and secure.
1. Use caution when sharing health information electronically
If a client decides to share health information electronically, ensure they do so with caution. Encourage them to create a strong password containing letters, numbers, and symbols to prevent people from accessing their phone or computer.
2. Only use health technology and mobile apps from trusted sources
Benefits technology has changed healthcare, but it’s important to use apps from trusted providers. There are very few legal limitations that prevent apps from collecting sensitive data from their users. However, these tips can help prevent your clients from sharing their health information with unreliable apps:
- Opt for apps provided by your client’s health insurer or doctor’s office as they are more likely to comply with privacy laws.
- Research the developers to see if they have prior experience with healthcare apps.
3. Think before posting online
Advise your clients to think about the information they share online. Make it clear that whatever information they post online may remain permanent. They should not assume that online forums or message boards are private or secure. If your clients do decide to post health information on social media, have them consider making their profile private to limit access to others.
Work with a trusted provider
Data privacy should be a top priority for brokers. Educating your clients on the importance of cyber security and providing them with helpful tips shows you care and that you can be a reliable resource for them in the future.