Alongside remote work, telemedicine was the poster child of the pandemic, with the number of telehealth visits increasing by 50% in the first quarter of 2020 alone. Of course, this easy form of medical communication has been on the rise for some years but, with more patients than ever trying to avoid in-person visits, 2020 has been the ideal time to test the theory. And, for the most part, we like what we see.
After all, as well as reducing the missed appointments that cost healthcare providers as much as $150 billion per year, telehealth makes it more likely that we’ll make time to talk, and seek help sooner than ever before. These are benefits that we’re certainly unlikely to throw away after all of this.
But, all that shines is not gold, and this sudden increase in telemedicine is by no means without its downsides. Most notably in a year where cybercrime is at an all-time high, healthcare conducted in this manner is at risk of two to three times more cyber attacks than other industries.
With this in mind, healthcare providers need to approach a shift towards telehealth with caution, specifically suring up security in the following ways.
Asses security as it stands
Only by understanding where risks are right now can telehealth providers ensure ongoing data protection once this really does become our healthcare norm. Specifically, as pandemic panics settle at least a little, health care providers should turn their attention to a professionally conducted IT network audit that considers every possible risk factor, and brings suggestions for improvement to the table. These insights are guaranteed to prove invaluable, laying the foundations for improvements that, if left unchecked, could be the undoing of this health shift altogether.
Focus on end-to-end encryption
End-to-end encryption is a trend that we’re heard a lot about in a business sense this year, but this could also be the way forward for ongoing telehealth. After all, by encrypting all messages within a network, this approach largely removes vulnerabilities and makes wide-scale data breaches or leaks a whole lot less likely.
Telehealth providers especially need to take note, as end-to-end encryption secures network information even when patient devices come into play. In other words, this protection is the only way to guarantee security no matter how many patients, or third parties, that you grant access to your software on the whole.
Consider security from all partners
Speaking of third parties, these also deserve a look-in from a security standpoint. After all, whether healthcare providers rely on outside video, cloud, or IT solutions, the chances are that there’s more than one third-party involved in the process. With this in mind, far from just seeking security compliance from the company at the helm of telehealth solutions, providers must also ask crucial questions about any partners and their compliance stances at all times. Only then is it possible to provide the guaranteed security that could well see telehealth set for a long and prosperous future after all.