Telehealth is on the rise, bringing with it an array of incredible benefits but also underscoring a number of emerging data security risks faced by healthcare organizations.
Protecting the private medical information of patients has always been a sacred duty of providers everywhere. How can you be sure you’re remaining vigilant as new threats and vulnerabilities come to the forefront?
A New Era of Healthcare<?h2>
It’s hardly a surprise virtual visits are so popular. A study published in 2019 reported patients felt they were not only effective, but more convenient, while physicians loved the ease of scheduling and the efficiency. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred on the growth of telehealth as it becomes not only convenient, but necessary, with providers and patients alike trading in their in-person visits for remote ones instead.
Electronic medical records were already a mainstay, but now, with more doctor-patient interactions taking place virtually and more data being transmitted, stored, and managed, it’s all the more imperative to build a data protection strategy suited to this new landscape.
In our new guide for strengthening data security in healthcare, we zero in on five prevalent risks, their implications, and what providers can do to mitigate them.
#1: More data, but less clarity
Hospitals and healthcare organizations are accruing data at an incredible rate, but an estimated 97% of it goes unused. This tends to mean a considerable amount of patient information is living within these organizations, but much of it is unseen or unaccounted for, and spread across a variety of networks, servers, and databases. When data is not comprehensively identified and classified, providers are unable to ascertain what is sensitive and take the necessary steps to protect it (or remove it).
#2: Growing regulatory pressure and complexities
HIPAA has always been a top-of-mind concern for healthcare providers everywhere, but recently, there’s been evidence that government agencies are clamping down. We’ve seen a staggering number of fines levied by the DHHS and its Office of Civil Rights in 2020. That includes a $6.8 million penalty for Premera Blue Cross following a major data breach, the second-largest fine in OCR’s history.
#3: Cyberattacks on the rise
Tales of ransomware attacks and external data breaches — often going unnoticed for months — are all-too-common in the world of healthcare. INTERPOL has warned that the risk of cyberattacks on hospitals is elevated as resources are stretched thin in response to the COVID crisis. More recently, in October of 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), in conjunction with the FBI and DHHS issued an advisory citing “credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.”
#4: Lack of knowledge or caution among employees and patients
Accidental insiders—employees who mistakenly release or expose sensitive information—are a particularly insidious threat precisely because they may not even realize they’re doing anything wrong. Something as simple as using a weak password or unsecured WiFi can put data security in jeopardy. The challenge is magnified at a time where many are working from home, and on their own devices.
#5: New telehealth apps and consumer products not built to heightened standards
Healthcare apps are proliferating, particularly during COVID when data is crucial for tracking symptoms and contact tracing. But, like many technological advances, apps also come with heightened risk; lack of security maturity among app developers can make these commonly used tools a weak link.
It’s Time to Take Control of Healthcare Data Security
The future health of your organization may well depend on the strength of its data security. These risks are serious, and pervasive. But be assured: there are clear steps you can take to clearly understand, classify, and protect all of your sensitive patient data. We’re ready to show you how.