The protection of sensitive information is certainly a major concern for businesses of all types, but in the medical and healthcare industry it is absolutely critical. Companies involved in healthcare must invest in the necessary resources to ensure security in all aspects of medical payment data collection.
It should come as no surprise that one of the most significant risks facing companies in the healthcare and medical industry is data security. Due to the necessity of certain types of information being required in order to effectively help their patients, these businesses have access to a wealth of private personal information such as healthcare records, government-issued documents, as well as credit card numbers and banking details used to process medical payments. Because of this, your healthcare or medical company needs to ensure it is prepared to meet this challenge with a secure payment processing system.
Keeping customer data secure isn’t just limited to the actual point-of-sale system used, however. There are many other elements to consider when looking at data protection from a more comprehensive viewpoint. Businesses in the healthcare industry need to be acutely aware of how each factor, from payment method to record retention, is managed in terms of protection against data breaches and potential loss of customer data. To this end, it’s important to understand the payment process from start to finish, and the different types of security elements that exist as part of the sequence when a payment flows from a customers’ account to a business’ account.
How Does Secure Payment Processing Technology Work?
When a customer taps or swipes their card at a business, it may seem like the entire transaction is completed in a matter of mere seconds. However, there is a precise sequence of steps that is followed once the point-of-sale terminal receives the customers payment information. The first step occurs when the payment terminal transmits the transaction information through a payment gateway, which encrypts and encodes the data before it moves to the next stage of the authorization process.
This encrypted data is then transferred to the merchant’s payment processing provider, who is responsible for cross checking the transaction details against the customers’ account and verifying that there is adequate credit or available funds to cover the dollar value of the purchase. If everything checks out and the transaction is deemed to be approved, the response is sent back to the merchant terminal, which will then display the appropriate message, finalize the transaction, and trigger the creation of the payment receipt.
Each time the data is transmitted from one step to the next, encryption technology helps keep it safe and secure by rendering it undecipherable and useless to all but the intended recipient. While this is certainly reassuring to both businesses and customers alike, even with encryption protection in place, it’s important to know that there are some payment methods that are more secure than others.
Are Some Payment Types More Secure Than Others?
The security level of a particular payment method depends on the technology it uses to store sensitive personal information, and the process by which this information is accessed by the payment terminal and verified to be authentic. With cash, there are essentially no security measures to speak of, aside from counterfeit detection features integrated into paper bills. Of course, cash is rapidly becoming obsolete as Canadians continue to adopt the use of credit and debit cards, as well as digital payment methods such as mobile wallets and e-transfers.
Credit cards and debit cards offer far greater security since they require verification steps such as signatures, PIN entry, or secondary identification checks. However, the personal account data contained in the magnetic strip on the back of the cards themselves is the same with each swipe, and can be copied by maliciously-installed devices known as ‘skimmers’. These compact card reading devices are often installed on top of existing credit card readers, for example at self-serve payment terminals. With each card swipe, the skimmer accumulates customer data to be retrieved later or transmitted wirelessly to a nearby thief. Because of this, traditional swipe methods for processing credit and debit cards have been largely phased out in favour of more secure alternatives.
Chip and PIN cards offer superior security over magnetic stripes as they work to encrypt the personal data using a unique combination with each purchase. This means the data transmitted by the chip is good for a single transaction only, and even if it is copied by a data thief it cannot be used for subsequent fraudulent transactions.
Tap-to-pay terminals use near-field communication technology (NFC) to achieve the same level of encryption without the need for physical contact with the payment terminal. Digital wallets contained in apps on smartphones use the same type of NFC technology contained on those styles of credit and debit cards, but the smartphones instead use their built-in NFC chips to perform the same function without the need to carry a physical card.
For businesses involved in the healthcare & medical sector, the benefits of tap-to-pay and NFC payment processing are significant. Not only do they offer the highest level of encryption, but they also eliminate much of the need for physical contact between the customer and the payment terminal, reducing the potential for the spread of harmful bacteria or viruses. In the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, this benefit is particularly notable, accelerating the rate at which businesses are moving to adopt this type of payment method.
What Steps Should Medical & Healthcare Companies Take to Protect Sensitive Data?
In order to create the most secure situation for data protection inside a healthcare or medical services company, there must be a combination of efforts across different aspects of payment processing, data retention, and internal procedures. For starters, the company’s internal IT team must ensure that adequate protections are in place in the form of firewalls, anti-virus software, and anti-malware tools. This will help block out many types of malicious attacks from hackers and scammers and stop potential loss of data before these approaches can gain a foothold on internal computer systems.
In addition to the investment in security software and IT resources, businesses in the healthcare and medical industry must also invest in effective training and education for their employees. Educating employees on best practices for information security at all levels within the organization will help prevent unnecessary data breaches by conditioning team members to spot threats designed to fish for information such as passwords or ID questions, as well as avoid high-risk behaviour such as clicking on unsolicited links in emails or direct messages.
Data loss prevention also depends on investing in modern payment processing systems that use top-level data encryption, and encourage customers to pay with the most secure forms of payment, such as NFC and tap-to-pay cards. To do this, your organization will need a modern payment terminal like the Clover Flex or the Clover Mini, or a secure online payment solution like a virtual terminal that a customer can access from any connected smartphone, tablet, or PC.
At the end of the day, the easier it is for customers to pay securely, the more likely it is that they will choose to use those payment methods, and the more protected their personal medical payment data will be during each transaction.
To make the most of your secure payment system, you’ll need to partner with the right merchant services provider who can not only equip your company with the most advanced and secure payment solutions, but will also provide ongoing training, top-tier 24/7/365 customer support, and expert technical service. When your business brings all these elements together, you’ll have the right combination of resources, procedures, and experience that will reassure customers their data is safe and secure.
Increase Data Protection with Secure Medical Payment Processing Technology
MONEXgroup is proud to be the preferred payment processing partner of many Canadian healthcare organizations that depend on us to provide the highest level of security and data protection for their patients. Now is the moment to take action and implement enhanced data and transaction security for the benefit of your customers. Contact MONEXgroup today to get started and learn more about the best secure payment processing systems.
Author: Layal Scheirich, Head of Sales at MONEXgroup
Bio: With 18 years of experience in payment processing and merchant services, Layal has seen in-store POS technology evolve from its humble beginnings to contactless, unattended, mobile and online alternatives. Today, Layal is an inspiration to the MONEXgroup’s team and a go-to source of information related to payment processing. She is enthusiastic to share her knowledge with audiences interested in cutting-edge technologies available today, such as unattended payment for self-serve kiosks, e-commerce online payment gateways, virtual terminals, and contactless and mobile payment solutions.
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