The privacy of your personal medical information has been a matter of professional and legal concern for decades. Most of us are familiar with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and how seriously health professionals take your privacy, which is why the industry has such robust policies in place to protect our medical information: it is some of the most intimately personal data that exists about us, and we should have always absolute control over who can access it.
The move from physical information to electronic data has created an entirely new field of security concerns for the healthcare industry. Health professionals are regularly receiving new training about how to remain HIPAA-compliant in an interconnected world. It is not only our medical care and insurance providers who have to take these concerns into account, however. If you use the Internet to access medical and insurance information, you need to make sure you are taking the correct steps to protect your valuable information too!
Electronic Health Records and Privacy
Your electronic health record (EHR) is the digital version of the paper chart we often associate with a visit to the doctor’s office. Your EHR can contain past diagnoses, medical history, images taken with scans and cameras, allergies, vaccinations, test results, and more. This information is typically transmitted between professionals in the healthcare and insurance industries, and is therefore protected by HIPAA.
If you share any of this information online however, (for instance, when browsing available services on your insurance provider’s website), you must take it upon yourself to secure your own communications. If you ever find yourself doing this sort of activity on a public wireless network, the danger is even more extreme! Plenty of malicious entities create “traps” out of legitimate-seeming public networks precisely to sniff out your personal data.
Whether browsing on a possibly unsecured Internet connection at home or connecting remotely through a mobile device, it is best to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your data the next time you go in for a virtual check-up.
What is a VPN?
A VPN provides the privacy of a proxy server, (a separate computer acting as your device’s “proxy” to spoof your identity), with the added security of encryption. At its most basic, you can look at a VPN as an encrypted tunnel that lets online communications pass through while preventing outsiders from looking in. People use VPNs for a variety of reasons: to protect their identity, spoof their location, access blocked content, bypass censorship, circumvent government surveillance – or in this case – protect their valuable healthcare data!
Read More: How To Use a VPN on Public WiFi
VPNs use public key encryption to provide extra layers of protection. You can read more at How Does a VPN Work? to get the full picture, but the important point to remember is that public key encryption is the modern day standard. VPN providers are continually using a combination of different available methods to find newer and stronger ways to encrypt their data.
How to Use a VPN to Protect Your Healthcare Data
Getting started with a VPN is easy. ProxyServer’s ProVPN is specifically designed to be user-friendly, even for those who have never used a proxy or VPN before. All you have to do is install, login, and connect. You can install ProVPN on your home computer and your mobile devices. Check out our How-To tutorials to see all of the different ways you can use your VPN.
Once you have installed ProVPN on all of your devices, the next step is to login. On the ProVPN home screen, log in and select your preferred region. In the case of protecting your medical data, your biggest concern is privacy, not region, so you can select the server furthest from your current location to throw hackers off the scent. See How to Select the Best VPN Server for Your Location for a more in-depth explanation.
ProVPN runs in the background with an unobtrusive window you can minimize at your convenience. The window provides useful information such as your original server location, your current server location, and your data usage.
Now that you know how a VPN works, have installed ProVPN on all of your devices, and can log in to your personal account at any time, you can set your mind at ease about the security of your private medical data. By protecting yourself with a VPN, you are also preventing growing problems such as identity theft, hacking, and malware. Be sure to read our other articles to see all of the other ways people around the world are using VPNs. Happy safe browsing!