Hospitals invest in the security of their physical front-door, but are they investing enough to secure their digital backdoor?
Headlines like this one, “Hackers post detailed patient medical records from two hospitals to the dark web,” are becoming far too common across the healthcare industry. In fact, in 2020 alone, healthcare data breaches cost the United States $4 billion. Even more so, hacking incidents increased 55% in 2020 compared to 2019.
With healthcare shifting towards more digital access and technology to enhance and improve patient care, the avenues for exposing patient and hospital data are increasing rapidly. How can too many technology vendors leave sensitive data exposed? Are there ways to increase access to care without leaving patient data vulnerable?
Looking at hospital cybersecurity like a house
Let’s imagine hospital cybersecurity like a house. There is a physical front door, a digital backdoor, and windows to represent each technology vendor with access to a hospital’s technology infrastructure and data. Every new technology vendor the hospital implements, the more windows that are added to the house.
With more windows, come challenges.
The technology team is responsible for monitoring every digital access point for threats or breaches that might exploit healthcare data. With each new technology addition (window), the team is tasked with vetting the technology for compliance and that it won’t put healthcare data at risk. As the number of vendors increases, the more resources and operational controls a hospital will need to dedicate towards accommodating for these additional access points.
For many hospitals, especially those with a limited budget, this increase in operational costs can strain budgets and stretch internal resources thin. As a hospital adds more technology vendors, there’s the added risk of losing control over the technologies they choose to adopt. This can quickly lead to losing control over technology freedom and flexibility by handcuffing hospitals to a technology vendor.
With the rapid rise in telemedicine adoption, many hospitals are searching for telemedicine partners to support their service lines and increase access to care for patients. However, many telemedicine partners require hospitals to adopt a new technology platform to perform telemedicine. As we’ve seen, the more windows there are, the more exposure to potential cybersecurity risks.
Is there a more secure route to adopting telemedicine that doesn’t require the additional technology burden?
Choosing a technology neutral telemedicine partner
Protecting patient data is always a top priority for any health system. That’s why implementing any new technology from a third-party vendor requires extensive auditing, vetting, and testing to ensure that data will continue to be safe and secure. By leveraging existing technology, a technology neutral partner mitigates much of the risk and liability of a cyberattack by not opening additional avenues for a cyberattack.
Additionally, the burden on the technology team is significantly reduced because the existing technology is already in place and compliant. This saves time, resources, and ensures data will continue to be safeguarded without requiring additional resources.
Finally, healthcare systems understand better than anyone what technology suits them best. By choosing a technology neutral partner, it leaves the healthcare systems in control of what technologies or hardware they choose to adopt. This allows for more freedom to build programs, workflows, and use technology in a way that works best for the healthcare system, not the other way around.
Investing in telemedicine cybersecurity
Telemedicine is here to stay, and digital tools that improve access to care will only increase in the coming years. In fact, COVID-19 likely accelerated the digital transformation of healthcare. As hospitals and healthcare systems invest more in the digital transformation, they’ll want to ensure they are also investing in protecting patient data and cybersecurity threats.
Choosing a technology neutral partner will ensure that access to care doesn’t mean increasing cybersecurity risk.
To see how a technology neutral telemedicine partner like VirtualMed Staff can help you build, grow, and expand your telemedicine program for long-term success, reach out today and let’s get started. For more resources, check out other great resources we have available: 4 Reasons to Choose a Technology Neutral Partner.