The potential of telehealth is appealing; it is an excellent option with 24-hour remote tracking of patient vitals, access to specialist advice in even the most distant areas, and considerable savings of money and time. Technology has advanced enough to make this a reality, yet certain challenges remain to its implementation.
Although telehealth has been taken up globally, it also has some disadvantages. The extremely sensitive nature of particular data of patients being collected participated in, and stored by the healthcare region is an open feast for cybercriminals.
Healthcare professionals see an uninterrupted future with telehealth solutions. Still, many also believe it will only be sustainable if there’s a global enhancement of data security for telehealth solutions.
Increased utilization of telehealth has caused numerous anxieties regarding its safety, with patients and practitioners anxious about the security of health-related information.
The representatives of big medical organizations worldwide were surveyed with the help of Arlington Research. They were asked inquiries concerning the progress of telehealth and, principally, the difficulties physicians experience when providing medical care remotely. These are the outcomes that were discovered.
Fig No. 01
Patient Information Being Made Available Without Authorization
The survey revealed that 30% of clinics had their patient data exposed because of telehealth sessions because it is noticed that many small-scale healthcare facilities use the same computer for telehealth services and administrative tasks. Nowadays, with the implementation of the Health insurance portability and accountability Act 1996 (HIPAA) strict rules that exist to protect patient’s private information, any negligence or leakage can lead to severe repercussions for health organizations – both in terms of reputation and heavy fines from regulators.
More than half (52%) of remote telehealth providers have encountered cases where patients were hesitant to have a video call due to privacy and data safety concerns. Similarly, a large proportion (81%) of clinicians have expressed worries about conducting remote telehealth sessions, including apprehension about patient data use and sharing, data security, and potential personal repercussions of any data leakage.
Solution: Before introducing a new telehealth system, conduct an external audit to detect and fix security and privacy issues.
Hucu.ai is scalable, which allows our team to serve a variety of small, mid-size, and large organizations with advanced security features (e.g., multiple locations management, user level access, patient-centered messaging access, family messaging access, etc.)
Insufficient Knowledge of Data Protection
In a survey, 42% of those questioned conceded that medical personnel participating in telehealth interactions lack knowledge of the data protection policies at their facility. They need to be fully trained in data security measures or be made aware of HIPAA rules. This is undoubtedly a concerning issue, as it could lead to mistakes resulting in data breaches, as well as leaving the doctor unable to answer questions from patients who are becoming more and more frequent.
Solution: To avoid this problem, medical institutions should conduct time-to-time training sessions on data security for staff to remain updated, create a document detailing the data storage and processing practices, and ensure that all personnel receives it. Additionally, physicians need to be mindful of the current cyber threats to reduce the likelihood of mistakes.
Most of those surveyed indicated that their organizations offer telehealth services with software not intended for that purpose. This can result in data security problems due to the technological restrictions of the software or unaddressed flaws within them. Many healthcare facilities use remote communication applications that need to be designed appropriately for healthcare purposes and are not even HIPAA compliant.
Solution: When selecting a telemedicine solution, emphasize that software is already installed in any healthcare organization so you can easily judge according to your needs. The best way to repair security issues is to utilize software tailored to the medical field. Additionally, it is important to examine all programs used for remote access thoroughly.
Hucu.ai is an easy-to-use HIPAA Compliant Messaging App that allows you to safely connect with your team and share messages, photos, files, etc., in real-time to enhance patient-centered care.
Issues with Diagnosis, Caused by Technological Restrictions
Approximately one-third of organizations have had instances of misdiagnoses caused by inferior-quality photos or videos. It is partially because video-conferencing applications often reduce image quality to guarantee a smooth experience. Complications can also transpire due to overloaded servers or communication networks.
Additionally, a significant challenge to the utilization of this technology is that the equipment needs to be enhanced to keep up with global adoption. Disconcertingly, one-third (34%) of remote telehealth providers agree that one or more healthcare professionals in their organization have made a mistake in diagnosis due to inadequate video or image quality.
Solution: It is more than just up to the medical firm to fix the issue, as it may be traced back to the poor quality of the customer-end technology. Nevertheless, they should endeavor to reduce potential difficulties by delivering additional capacity (if on-site servers are utilized for video conferencing) and a backup communication course.
Operating Systems of the Past
In many telehealth organizations, legacy operating systems are employed to meet compatibility requirements, but these are often chosen due to budgetary constraints or the need for more knowledgeable IT personnel. Unfortunately, an insecure legacy system can give intruders a way to access confidential patient information and disrupt telehealth processes.
Regarding the security provided by operating system upgrades, seven in ten (73%) healthcare providers still use medical apparatus with legacy OS. Reasons for this include the high cost of upgrades (37%), compatibility issues (29%), lack of internal knowledge on how to upgrade (17%), and other factors (18%).
Solution: Operating systems should be kept up to date. However, this may only sometimes be possible, such as using outdated medical devices. Therefore, we suggest putting vulnerable systems in their offline network segment and equipping them with specialized security systems that function in Default Deny mode.
Although the move to remote diagnosis and appointments was already underway before the pandemic hit, it has grown in strength and speed as the world was in lockdown. It isn’t easy to quickly switch to any technology on a large scale. However, some issues still prevent the industry from growing rapidly. As the global dependence on telehealth services continues to grow, the industry faces the challenge of increasing the security of these networks to ensure protection and peace of mind for all involved. It will ensure that the service remains safe and secure in the future of telehealth.
Experts offer the following suggestions for medical institutions to take to protect themselves as well as their patients.
Endpoints are the most common target of cyber-attacks. All corporate devices that have internet access must be protected. It includes office smartphones, tablets, terminals for recording, information kiosks, medical equipment, and computers.
Regular software updates can eliminate the possibility of adversaries using old unpatched vulnerabilities to attack as an initial attack vector. Sometimes, organizations may have to use legacy OS equipment due to compatibility issues and the high costs of upgrades. This is where you should use security solutions optimized for non-supported operating systems. Hucu.ai telehealth solution’s systems security provides multiple security technologies, including anti-malware and network protection. This protects embedded systems against the latest threats. To ensure the organization’s data’s safety and security, employees must be aware of security issues. All employees, including medical staff, should be aware of cyber risks. They also need to know how to deal with them. It is essential that employees have a good understanding of the cyber security measures in place within their company and can explain to patients how they are protected.
Healthcare companies must have an email security system. Healthcare organizations receive lots of spam emails. Spam often contains harmful attachments that could cause damage to the company’s infrastructure.
Cybercriminals employ a variety of methods to search for personal information. They can steal sensitive data by using weak passwords. A strict password policy should include multifactor authentication, identity, and access management options.