Security of patient data needs to be prioritised

SOTI Inc. Australia

By Michael Dyson, Managing Director
Monday, 22 July, 2019



Security of patient data needs to be prioritised

As mobility continues to transform the way we live and work, cybersecurity and privacy concerns are top of mind for many individuals and businesses.

The healthcare industry is increasingly adopting mobile technology and becoming more reliant on the transmission of data, including confidential patient data on mobile devices. This shift has led to concerns around data security risks in health care, and the implications this may have on the privacy and safety of patient health information.

While recently the most intense scrutiny has been directed at the Australian Government’s My Health Record, both healthcare providers and services generating patient health data should ensure this information is kept secure.

Healthcare sector under scrutiny

Data security in health care has been a contentious topic since the government extended the deadline to opt out of My Health Record to 31 January 2019. My Health Record is an online summary of an individual’s health information, which can be viewed by both patients and healthcare providers. However, following public pressure regarding the security of this information, several amendments have been made.

Furthermore, when the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner released its first full quarter numbers under the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme, it listed the healthcare industry as the worst culprit for NDB. As privacy and data security concerns swirl around My Health Record, NDB numbers will be closely watched.

While My Health Record has since gone live, many Australians do not support it. A recent survey conducted by SOTI revealed that only 39.12% of Australians surveyed support My Health Record, while the remainder either did not support it, opted out or did not have an opinion on it.

SOTI’s survey also revealed that Australians believe that patient health data privacy and security is the responsibility of multiple parties, not just the government. It found that 61.68% of Australians believe the government is responsible, 61.08% believe individual health providers are responsible and 39.32% believe they are responsible for protecting their own health information.

While the government may have come under intense scrutiny regarding the My Health Record system, it’s clear that data security in health care is important to Australians. Australians expect both the government and individual healthcare providers to play an active role in securing patient information.

Risks to data security

Like many industries, mobility and the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) are having a tremendous impact on health care. The downside of this is that more devices and more connected things increases security risks and the potential of leaking confidential patient data, which damages trust in the organisation, and could lead to financial losses and other negative consequences.

In the face of current scrutiny and high-profile security issues in the healthcare sector, health organisations are under pressure to ensure the data they store is secure. Yet over 40% of Australians surveyed are not confident that their healthcare provider has the appropriate data security measures in place for the devices that healthcare workers use.

A range of healthcare providers from hospitals, GPs and specialist clinics has large amounts of patient data that will be provided to the My Health Record system. These organisations must ensure a high level of security across the many devices used in health care. These include PCs, servers, mobile devices and medical devices.

In terms of security, there are two challenges to address. The first is data security — ensuring any data stored on devices is protected. The second is network security — ensuring any patient data transmitted to and from a device is encrypted.

Healthcare providers and services need a comprehensive solution to ensure data and network security for all users. With new connected devices, IoT and new categories of endpoints, they need to be secured and managed with a single, unified mobility management solution.

Unified mobility management is critical

The survey revealed that 49.30% of Australians would feel more confident about the safety of their health information if their healthcare provider had a mobility solution that could wipe and lock devices remotely, enforce data encryption and require passcodes to secure data on devices.

In order to provide the high level of data security necessary for the healthcare sector, enterprise mobility management (EMM) is required, as healthcare organisations must secure and manage the vast numbers of endpoints they are deploying to keep patient data secure and private. An integrated approach is crucial, as it will remove mobility silos and connect everything from mobile devices to IoT endpoints. With everything connected, it will be easier for healthcare organisations to secure and manage their mobile devices.

SOTI ONE is an integrated suite of mobility solutions. Working together, the platform removes mobility silos and connects everything. Then, when everything is connected, the integration, analytics and intelligence ensure a solution that evolves with advances in technology and allows for securing and managing mobile devices and IoT endpoints.

Digital reliance and mobility in health care will continue to grow, as will consumer awareness of data security in this sector. That’s why healthcare providers and services should ensure they have an integrated mobility management solution in place, so patients can feel confident that their information is safe and secure.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Flamingo Images

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