Over the years, the world of personalized healthcare has grown by leaps and bounds. In addition to advancements like 3D printing and automation in the pharmaceutical industry, doctors are now able to speak to patients over telehealth platforms and send direct text messages.
However, when technology advances, so do the tactics of hackers and cybercriminals. Doctors, nurses, and administrators must be careful to protect patients and their data in this new world. Let’s talk about the current healthcare landscape and how to overcome potential threats.
Security When Communicating with Patients
According to The Script, there have recently been concerns about doctors who make it a habit to text and email their patients with updates, diagnoses, and other medical information. Doctors choose this communication method because they want to avoid a “phone tag” situation, where the patient keeps calling back, and they don’t get the information they need. Many people have smartphones, and it can be easier to see and respond to a text or email than it is to find time to call the doctor back.
The concern with sending information to patients outside of a secured network is that hackers can easily intercept that data and use it for malicious means. On top of that, if a cybercriminal notices that you text or email a certain patient, then the hacker may try to take advantage by sending phishing emails or texts. That is when the hacker pretends they are a physician and they send the patient a fake text with a link. If the patient clicks, then that opens a door for the hacker to break into the patient’s phone and steal their information.
Before sending a patient a text or email, it is important to inform them of the risks, including the possibility of phishing scams. Also, the doctor should tell the patient that if they are ever concerned they’re getting a fake message, they should call the physical office to confirm its authenticity.
Storing Patient Data
The other major concern in 2023 is how you store your patient data. All confidential information should be stored on servers that are backed up regularly. Also, every computer and application should be secured by strong passwords and a form of two-factor authentication, such as a biometric finger or eye scan.
The reason for this necessary protection is that if hackers are able to break the system, they can easily steal or duplicate the information within. Every piece of patient information can be sold on the black market or used for future scams. Plus, if a hacker is able to breach your system, they could install ransomware, which means they could take control of the network and your devices, and that could be detrimental during surgeries and other important functions. According to inVerita, ransomware attacks are up 32% from 2020, so this is a real concern.
The solution to your data storage concerns may be to utilize the cloud. According to the folks at Verizon, cloud storage can be very beneficial because the information you upload there is monitored 24/7 by the company’s in-house security team. While there is still the chance that the cloud could be breached by hackers, the ability to have a team monitor and catch threats on your behalf can really make a difference.
Stay Protected Against the Newest Threats
While the healthcare industry is making progress when it comes to cybersecurity, there is still room to improve. According to Healthcare Dive, talent shortages, financial pressures, and a lack of full understanding prohibit healthcare providers from being as secure as possible. You can make your office different from the rest by creating a solid cybersecurity backbone.
It is listed in the HIPAA security rule that your practice must provide security training to all employees. That training should tell employees about current scams, how to watch out for them, and the proper way to report a threat if they find it. Make sure that cybersecurity training is part of the initial new employee orientation, so they get this valuable information right away.
Also, it is essential that your medical practice is well-informed about all of the newest threats. The websites for the FBI and Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) provide up-to-date information about the latest security concerns. It is important to take some time on a regular basis to check up on new cybersecurity issues, so you can put the proper protections in place at your medical office.
It is possible to overcome the cyber risks that can impact your office and the privacy of your patients. Keep these tips in mind, and prevent potential threats before they become a reality.
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