Once the pandemic hit, everyone struggled to figure out how doctor visits and therapy appointments would continue. Naturally, they still needed to happen, but practitioners and patients were worried about conducting these appointments. Telehealth came to solve the problem, allowing health care professionals to meet with people safely.
Ensuring the security of patient information within telehealth platforms is a huge responsibility. While these platforms have adapted over the past couple of years, there is still work for humans to do on their end. Here are five telehealth security best practices offices and hospitals can use.
WHY TELEHEALTH SECURITY IS ESSENTIAL
While telehealth is extremely useful for patients and physicians alike, many security risks are associated with making so much sensitive information digital. About a third of offices say they experienced data breaches on their telehealth platform. The same number reported the same issues with third-party vendors.
There are plenty of benefits for doctors, but convenience for the patient is one of the most prominent reasons to use telehealth. However, they too worry about the safety of their data. 52% of patients in the same earlier study refused to use the service because they feared it wasn’t secure enough. Health care providers must improve their telehealth safety to provide full access to their patients.
Additionally, they need to keep them secure because of the rate of data breaches and cyberattacks currently occurring. In 2021, hackers breached nearly 30 million patient records. Two significant attacks happened in the first half of the year and were not caught until the second half. Additionally, 97% of data breaches occurred because of deliberate attacks.
WAYS TO PRACTICE TELEHEALTH SECURITY
Telehealth security is vital because those with malicious intentions frequently access sensitive information, many offices report cyberattacks and patients worry about it affecting them. Here are some of the best telehealth security practices IT professionals recommend to health care facilities.
Install a virtual private network
Also called VPNs, these networks provide encryption when you go online. It creates a greater amount of privacy when connecting to the internet, keeping the information doctors access more secure. This includes any conversations medical personnel and patients have, test results, and charts – as well as insurance and payment information.
Installing a VPN can help information remain safe for health care facilities. An extra layer of protection helps keep patient data protected.
Use two-factor authentication
This method of logging in to secure areas is a way to verify those accessing the information are within the organization. Nowadays, only using a password isn’t enough to stop a cybercriminal. Instead, asking users to input security codes sent to their email or mobile phone verifies the correct person is signing in.
In fact, this could significantly reduce an office or hospital’s risk of hacker interference. Microsoft says you’re over 99% more likely to avoid a breach if you use two or multi-factor authentication.
Find HIPAA-compliant video communications
Like with all things involving the medical field, remaining within the HIPAA guidelines is a crucial practice. Doing so when finding ways to speak over video helps assure a patient’s information is safe. Luckily, there are a few applications that are both HIPAA compliant and will enter business associate agreements (BAAs).
Some of these are:
- Zoom for Healthcare
- Spruce Health Care Messenger
Because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services verified these platforms as safe, IT professionals recommend them for use. The added benefit of entering BAAs means they have a duty to keep all information confidential.
Implement a zero-trust model
Zero-trust security works by not allowing anyone access to information they don’t need to see. While you might trust everyone in your network, a hacker who swipes a password could view anything they want if the account has unlimited access.
Zero trust means people are continuously required to validate their credentials. It assumes everyone attempting to view restricted data is a threat, so it checks multiple factors before allowing them to examine anything. Doing this in combination with two-factor authentication can help reduce attacks resulting in major information losses.
Train employees in safety policies
One of the most critical ways to keep telehealth secure is to teach staff the safest ways to use their accounts. Being able to detect phishing emails, spam calls, and bad websites is all vital to the security of patient data. Training them to create a strong password can also preserve their account’s strength.
Users are much more susceptible to hackers when they reuse passwords frequently. Therefore, employees must know how to create reliable ones and secure them. Additionally, teaching them about potential scams can help them stay vigilant against attacks.
UTILIZE THESE TELEHEALTH BEST CYBERSECURITY PRACTICES
Staying safe while using telehealth services is essential. In the world of digital health care, there are plenty of steps to follow so you can ensure patients’ data protection and peace of mind.