August 24, 2023
Many business practices have changed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Similarly, the increased use of telehealth has drastically altered the healthcare landscape.
Telehealth is a tool that uses IT to deliver patient care and other healthcare services securely and practically. It enables practices to connect with patients in novel ways, which has aided their ability to continue operating throughout the public health emergency. It also integrates with electronic health records (EHR), providing interoperability for providers.
However, the hazards associated with IT-related data collection, processing, transmission, and storage must be considered.
These risks include device theft, phishing scams, and ransomware that corrupts or destroys data. There are increased threats to privacy and security due to the collaboration between the IT vendor, practitioner, and patient while using telehealth.
Because of this, practices should put proper security measures in place to safeguard patient data, including authentication, encryption (both in transit and at rest), and access restriction.
Telehealth brings medical treatment to homes. As technology develops constantly, patients can now get online medications, and healthcare providers can track symptoms and vitals without a physical examination.
Besides, remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices can monitor and record various parameters, including temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate.
The telehealth service enables remote patient-provider connections through various means, including messaging, video and phone calls, and remote monitoring, but the ongoing internet transmission of privileged patient data raises the danger of security lapses.
Patients and healthcare professionals are on edge due to persistent security breaches within the healthcare system. Data breaches have become commonplace because of malware, viruses, and email phishing scams.
Statistics on healthcare data breaches show that between 2009 and 2022, unauthorized access to over 342 million patient records occurred. In addition to delaying hospital stays, interfering with medical procedures, and raising patient death rates, security breaches can substantially negatively impact patient care. Protecting patient privacy is crucial because of this.
Since hackers regularly access sensitive data, many offices have reported intrusions, and patients are concerned about it hurting them, telehealth security is essential.
Here are some of the top telehealth security procedures that IT experts suggest to medical organizations.
These networks, often known as VPNs, offer encryption when you are online. Connecting to the internet through a VPN can increase privacy and the security of the data that physicians can access. This includes any discussions patients and medical staff may have, test findings, charts, and information regarding insurance and payment.
Besides, information may be kept secure for healthcare facilities by installing a VPN. That is, patient data is safeguarded by an additional degree of security.
Using this method, you can confirm that only authorized individuals are accessing the information. These days, deterring a cybercriminal with just a password is insufficient. Instead, requesting users to enter security codes delivered to their email or mobile device helps confirm that they are logging in as the right person.
In fact, this might greatly lower the possibility of hacker intrusion at a workplace or medical facility. According to Microsoft, using two or more forms of authentication increases your chance of avoiding a breach by over 99%.
Following HIPAA regulations is vital, as it is with everything related to the medical industry. By doing this, you can ensure that a patient's information is secure when communicating via video. Fortunately, a few applications may enter into business associate agreements (BAAs) that are HIPAA compliant.
Zero-trust security prevents anyone from accessing data they do not need to see. If an account has limitless access, a hacker who steals a password could view anything they want, even though you could trust everyone in your network.
People must constantly verify their credentials if there is zero trust. It verifies several things before allowing anyone to look at any restricted material because it considers anyone trying to do so a threat. Combining this with two-factor authentication can help decrease assaults that result in significant information losses.
Teaching personnel the safest ways to utilize their accounts is one of the most important strategies for maintaining telemedicine security. The security of patient data depends on being able to recognize spam calls, phishing emails, and malicious websites. The strength of their account can also be maintained by teaching them how to generate strong passwords.
Hackers have considerably easier access to their systems when users reuse passwords regularly. Employees must therefore understand how to build and secure trustworthy passwords. They can also be warned against attacks by being taught about potential scams.
Communities throughout the US now have better access to healthcare thanks to telehealth. Patients can now get remote care, including those with disabilities and those who reside in remote places with little access to transportation. Moreover, its smooth integration with EHRs and practice management software ensures higher profitability for healthcare providers.
However, the expansion of healthcare accessibility has brought with it undesirable new vulnerabilities. You must commit to going above and beyond as a healthcare practitioner to protect the confidence and privacy of your telehealth patients. Always follow these fundamental telehealth guidelines: