16 Apr 2020
Practicing safe social distancing? Got a health concern that can’t wait? Telemedicine is on the rise, and with complications abound due to COVID-19, the remote health consultation trend has skyrocketed in popularity. To limit in-person interactions with medical staff and stem the risk of exposure, hospitals, clinics, and other specialized health offices have begun offering these digital consultations to safely give advice to patients in-home. But like any other service moved online to prevent the spread of COVID, telemedicine faces cybersecurity risks. Telemedicine provides a portal from hospitals’ and clinics’ patient databases to patients’ personal devices, making the risks even more profound. Cybersecurity professionals are concerned that the service collects more information from patients than typically necessary, and emphasize that IT infrastructure and security are rarely up to par in healthcare environments. As the stakes grow higher for patients and healthcare providers alike, adapting with suitable cybersecurity measures will be important—and so, too, will be everyone’s cooperation in the process to protect patient data and carry on with as much regularity as possible.
Stay SharpWhether you’re working from home or out on the forefront, communication is key. When starting telemedicine services, cybersecurity experts recommend that healthcare providers find a trusted app to promote on their site or, if they already have the telemedicine function, making it evident for patients to find and download. Most current phishing scams also revolve around some form of telemedicine, usually malevolent apps or links attempting to make bank off public fears. Establishing a direct line of communication between patients and providers, as well as using a reputable service for your consultations, will help to reduce that risk—and as always, it’s important to analyze emails and other forms of contact for suspicious markers. Outside telemedicine services also have cybersecurity policies of their own, which means it’s worth looking into how those services collect data of their own. More verifiable services will include this information in their terms and conditions or elsewhere on their site, and looking for HIPAA compliance is especially crucial. And with the caveat that different offices require different amounts of information, facilities and patients alike should request and/or provide only the relevant information through telemedicine services.
Come TogetherCommunity cooperation in the face of COVID is more important than ever, and telemedicine, like social distancing, is a multi-way street: all parties can do their part to make sure they’re keeping themselves and others safe. Our HIPAA Risk Assessment guarantees HIPAA compliance along with the protection of your patients’ vulnerable information and evaluates all levels of your organization, including:
- Risk Management — Evaluate information and resources to ensure the capability to make risk management decisions
- Policy and Procedures — Ensure policies and procedures follow best practices and are properly implemented
- Infrastructure Security — Workstations, services, and server meet best practices security standards
- Network security — Ensure network is secure and properly monitored
- Data security — All PHI and data is secure and protected