The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly increased the importance of telehealth in our day-to-day lives. The digital healthcare system has made it possible for healthcare service providers to see 50 times more patients than before. Telehealth can now successfully deliver emergency ward visits, office visits, and outpatient volume. Patients, as well as providers, benefit hugely from it. Besides enhancing the efficiency of healthcare services, it also brings down the cost. Since every benefit has a downside, the drawback to telehealth is cyber risk. Telehealth comes with security and privacy risks, which the technocrats are trying to eliminate.
The increasing vulnerability
Healthcare providers are more than eager to deliver the services of medicine through telehealth. Still, several platforms do not have appropriate data standards to keep sensitive patient data safe. Connectivity, which makes telehealth possible, is also responsible for security risks related to patient data. Delivering remote services and protecting the patients’ health information doesn’t go hand in hand.
Any data transmitted over the internet is at the risk of being tapped by online swindlers. Since time immemorial, cybercriminals’ most preferred target has been the healthcare sector. In the year 2019, data breaches in the healthcare sector accounted for $4 billion. The year 2020 has proved to be nothing extraordinary. Attacks from cybercriminals continue to threaten confidential patient data even today. The biggest challenge is that patients don’t have control over the collection, sharing, and usage of their data.
The boom in telehealth leads to more fraud
In addition to concerns of cyber risks, experts have also kept an eye on the incidents of abuse and fraud as more providers and patients switch to virtual care and telehealth. Services of telehealth give rise to fraudulent practices such as billing for more visits than the actual number of visits, over-treating patients, and upcoding – a practice where higher payment is demanded for services that don’t exactly match the billing description.
Telehealth services have acted as a driving force for online swindlers by providing new opportunities to cheat or commit fraud. Areas of concentration for fraud are unknown to us when it comes to frauds committed in the telehealth system. There are several unique and new ways to commit fraud, which makes it difficult for healthcare service providers to detect the problem and stop it.
A sharp increase has been observed in chatter associated with telehealth credentials and apps on the hacker forums and Dark Web market. Healthcare service providers have noticed the sharing of malicious codes via criminal platforms that would enable the attackers to get all the patient health information from telehealth systems.
Researchers believe that malware is used primarily to procure patient data. In other circumstances, they found hackers delivering particulars on how to tap a healthcare imaging system so that medical images, including X-rays, could be procured, changed, and sold.
The sudden shift to Digital health because of the pandemic has allowed swindlers to hammer in devices and home networks, remote collaboration tools, video conferencing, and other equipment that are connected via a network.
Undoubtedly, telehealth is a significant part of delivering efficient health care while maintaining social distance. However, cyber risk proves to be a significant setback. But the pandemic has left us with no other choice than to use telehealth.
Cybercriminals have been targeting VPNs, remote workers, and cloud service platforms to extract patient identity and information. The death of a patient because of a weak security system isn’t justified in any way. Hence, care providers must begin to exercise more control and visibility over the network.
Service providers must make sure the telehealth is well encrypted while implementing telehealth services. Data is vulnerable, always including storage, access, and transmission. Therefore, it must be highly encrypted during all the stages. People should not lose faith in telehealth services just because of security and privacy concerns.
We wouldn’t be where we are now without digital healthcare services. The benefits are enough to outweigh the problems. If providers ensure rigorous standards to reduce the threats, telehealth can function to its full potential and live up to your expectations.
Schedule a free demo of Medinous hospital software!