Database Administrator Security

The Healthcare IT Guy gives some good food for thought when looking at your database administrator and the security of your database. Database administrators often have access to all of the medical information by looking directly at the database. This is often gone unaudited and unmanaged. As part of any HIPAA policy this issue should be addressed and documented. The best way I know how to do this is through implementing a strict policy with stiff penalties if it is ever breached. I think it would be hard to prove that they breached it, but at least it can insulate you from the “HIPAA police”. I’ll continue my research on the subject and post them here as I find them. Unfortunately, I expect that many of them will be database vendor specific.

More importantly, you should seriously consider who you’re hiring as your database administrator. They really have power to do all sorts of bad if they wanted.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

4 Comments

  • Jane Davis
    5 hrs, 47 mins ago
    We are a Free Clinic serving uninsured adults in our community. We are using Freedom MD for our EMR. at this point, there is some discussion about WHO should be the Administrator of the system. Originally, it was setup with ALL USERS signing in with the admin username and PW. We decided that wasn’t a good idea because of HIPPAA violations and for the wellbeing of the system. This clinic is run by all volunteers. We have a couple who are pretty much computer savvy and they have been taking care of our problems that come up. They feel like they should be the only ones to have the Admin username and PW ( which have been changed) and then the rest of us are assigned our own signin and levels of access according to our job description. Is that the way we should be set up? Please let me know so I can settle this discussion once and for all!
    Thanks.
    Jane

  • Jane,
    Depends on which admin username and password you’re talking about. Is it the admin user for the software, for your computer, for the server, etc?

    If it’s the EHR software itself, HIPAA’s quite clear that each user should have their own unique login and should only have rights to access the pieces of the EHR that they need to be able to access to do their job.

    Regardless of which system you’re talking about, it’s really bad IT strategy to have 1 admin user with a shared password that everyone knows. There’s no accountability then and you could be in serious trouble. Instead, each admin should have their own username and password with admin rights where appropriate.

    I think the key question is does the person that has admin rights need the admin rights to perform their job duty.

  • Thanks, John for your response. Our IT man takes care of the computer access and the server as well as the EMR program. I believe he is trying to set it up the way you have recommended . There is some resistance from some of the folks feeling like he has too much control. Can you help alieve that fear?
    Thanks.
    Jane

  • Jane Davis,
    I’d suggest that the best thing you can do to help with that fear is to have an outside person “audit” the login and security controls that your IT man implements. Every IT person hates to have someone look over their work, but there’s no better way to get your IT person motivated to do things right.

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