Telehealth has been on the rise for years, but in recent months, it has taken greater priority. This is thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic which has upended nearly every industry, with healthcare taking the brunt of the impact.
As a result, healthcare providers have had to adapt their methods of patient care, and one way in which they have been able to do this is through telehealth technology. With the ability to support their patients in this way, patient care has continued.
However, telehealth is not without its risks, and one of these is centered around patient privacy and network security.
The massive transition to telehealth has prompted an industry-wide reevaluation of security and compliance measures, and security professionals now need to work harder to ensure healthcare companies can remain compliant. Cybercrime is prevalent within every industry, but with the large amount of personal data now being transmitted between healthcare professionals and patients, now more than ever is there the need for extra endpoint security.
While most healthcare organizations have stringent security policies in place to remain compliant with government regulations (HIPAA, HITECH Act procedures, etc.) there are now new security risks in place. Any data that is transferred over the internet is at risk of being intercepted by a cybercriminal, including those documents that contain private patient information. And the video conferencing technologies and messaging apps that are now being used to communicate with patients can also be infiltrated easily.
Steps need to be taken by both healthcare and IT professionals to protect patient data and to remain compliant with government regulations. These good practices will make life safer for everyone.
Establishing Good Practices
All parties working within the healthcare industry need to strengthen their networks to better protect the patient information at their disposal. Breach defenses can include more secure logins, end-to-end encryption, and two-factor authentications. These can be implemented by the security teams working within the healthcare field or by any third party IT companies who have been called in to provide better security practices.
Patients can also be instructed in ways in which they can secure their telehealth experience. Word can be sent out to them about cybersecurity best practices, for example, with advice on how to use stronger passwords, and how to install security software on their phones and computers.
Training should be provided to all healthcare professionals, whether they're working remotely or based in their usual facility environment. Again, they should be guided on best password practices, and given other advice, such as how to firewall their computers, and how to spot signs of phishing attacks.
Rules need to be put in place too. Employees should be warned against remotely accessing patient information if they don't have the authorization to do so. And if they are required to have access to patient data, they should be warned against using those personal devices that don't have the relevant security measures in place.
There should also be a reliance on those IT companies who understand the latest cybersecurity risks, such as the cybersecurity experts at Emerge IT. We can assist both healthcare providers and security personnel, and advise them on the proper security protocols to minimize new and continuing threats.
The more that is done to protect the people at the center of these risks - the patients - the better. Especially during this time when they are already nervous at the state of the world around them. Let the cybersecurity professionals at Emerge help your healthcare organization have one less thing to worry about. Contact us today at 859-746-1030.