Today , the world is driven by digital innovation and technology.It is going to get more tech driven in the foreseeable future. Interestingly healthcare is also an important participant in this race towards a fast paced digital world where health tech makes it easier to manage records and administrative tasks. However, “ with great power comes great responsibility” With the power of digital evolution, comes a greater responsibility for ensuring data security in modern healthcare. Currently data security and privacy has become quite a sensitive issue in the modern healthcare industry. In this blog we will address how technology ensures data security in health care. We will also briefly discuss the present data security and protection laws being regulated by the UK government.
The significance of Data Security and Privacy in Healthcare:
It goes without saying that data privacy in healthcare is of utmost importance as it involves critical records including sensitive patient information. Since data has been digitalized for the ease of use and access, it has become all the more significant to ensure and keep data security and privacy as a priority. The main reasons for data security are:
- Patient trust:
Data security ensures patient trust and confidence in their medical service provider. Patients may share quite sensitive, personal information with the health care provider while seeking medical care. The protection of this crucial information is quite literally the key to entrusted doctor patient relationship.
- Identity theft:
When patients seek medical information, they share their personal info from name,address to health care insurance records. Breech in personal medical records may cause identity theft. Data privacy is significant to prevent identity theft.
- Medical safety:
Data security and privacy is crucial for the patient’s medical safety. The patient will only share his medical information if he trusts that the information will not be exposed to any irrelevant individuals. Honesty in sharing medical history is important for a correct diagnoses and treatment. Which can only be ensured through data security.
- Legal obligation and laws:
The UK gdpr has certain rules and regulations in place for the purpose of data security and privacy. Going against these regulations may result in unwanted consequences such as lawsuits.
Technological advancements in healthcare
Advancement in health tech in the last decade has completely transformed the healthcare industry. These changes have improved the management of medical records, telemedicine and telehealth and has totally revolutionized big data analysis in the healthcare industry.
- Electronic health record(EHR):
The adoption of electronic health records is by far the most important advancement in healthcare. Not only can medical providers access medical records in less time but also EHRs reduce any chances of critical human errors. Moreover, these records can be accessed from anywhere in the world by the relevant people.
- Telehealth services:
During covid-19 pandemic telehealth became the go to option for the population as there was a greater risk of exposure in medical service centers like hospitals and clinics. However telehealth services have now revolutionized the medical industry by providing access to world class healthcare in remote areas.
- Wearable devices:
Wearable devices such as smart watches, and fitness trackers allow users to have real time access to their vital signs. These devices help users track their sleep patterns,and their physical activity and their screen time.
- Artificial intelligence (AI):
AI has come a long way in aiding the healthcare industry. It can analyze huge amounts of data. Its machine learning algorithms are improving to aid in diagnosis and personalized treatment plans. Along with all it, virtual AI assistants have been introduced in healthcare to manage administrative tasks.
The vulnerabilities in Healthcare Data:
The healthcare data requires extreme protection measures in case of any exposure or threats. If fallen into the wrong hands, it can be a cause of many offensive financial and identity frauds. The main vulnerabilities in Healthcare data are as follows:
- Data Breaches:
Weak cybersecurity can cause data breaches which may ultimately result in identity theft, or insurance frauds. Cyber criminals often attack healthcare organizations for this purpose and it can be a serious law offense against UK GDPR.
- Insider Threats:
Employees working in the healthcare organization can also cause a vital threat of data breech. These employees can compromise the data protection of patients intentionally or unintentionally due to negligence. Employee training and strict private access is required in ensuring data security in modern healthcare.
- Mobile devices:
Mobile devices owned and used by the healthcare organization may pose a security threat to sensitive data. In case of being stolen or lost , these devices may fall into wrong hands and result in all sorts of cyber crimes.
- Outdated technology:
Often healthcare organizations use outdated technology which may not have updated security patches. These systems with outdated technology are an easier target for hackers and cyber attacks.
- Third Party access:
Many healthcare organizations receive services from different third party vendors. These vendors may have access to patient data causing it to be misused if they are not trustworthy. There needs to be a security assessment in place for these vendors so that they cannot misuse the data in any way.
Role of Encryption in Data Security:
We have looked into the horrors of data vulnerability but we have a way to secure and protect the data to avoid any vulnerabilities. It is called data encryption where the data is locked in the form of code and only people who have the decryption key can unlock or decrypt it. Following are the few things we can easily achieve from data encryption.
When the data is encrypted, it entrusts confidentiality by keeping unauthorized personnel such as cyber criminals or threats coming internally from reading or using data for wrong purposes.
- Data protection:
Encryption protects the data even when it is not being used or is stored in the server and also when the data is often exchanged over different channels.
- Minimal breech impact:
When the data is encrypted , it is almost impossible to decrypt it. Hence when cybercriminals try to cause a data breach, it may not be of any use in the encrypted form causing another layer of security to save data breaches.
- Secure communication:
In the world of digital communications, where patients and medical providers exchange information over digital means such as emails or texts, the conversation has to be encrypted. Encryption will ensure that only the intended recipients can access the conversation.
Cybersecurity Measures in Modern Healthcare:
Modern healthcare systems are not like sitting ducks when it comes to data protection. They implement well planned cyber security measures to ensure data security. A few main cybersecurity measures include:
- Risk assessment:
Modern healthcare systems regularly assess their data storage and servers to see where they can further reduce the risk of data breach. That way they can easily prioritize security efforts where risks are certain.
- Access control
Modern healthcare systems have proper access control protocols in place where they allow role based access to the data making it easier to manage data access permissions.
- Intrusion detection system
Intrusion detection systems initiate the protection protocol for data security and to stop any efforts to data breaches. Healthcare systems in the current era have become quite efficient in terms of protecting their sensitive information.
- Network segmentation
Modern healthcare service providers store their data in segregated parts of the network so that all the data is not accessible from any network point.
Regulatory Framework for Data Privacy
The UK’s Information commissioner’s office (ICO) has rolled out data security and privacy laws and regulations to ensure data security in modern healthcare. The healthcare organizations are obligated to abide by these regulations otherwise they may have to face dire consequences.
Medics UK ensures not only the security of patient data but also abides by the guidelines and regulations provided by the ICO to provide secure and efficient healthcare and health tech services.
The Bottom Line:
Technology has definitely revolutionized the healthcare and health tech industry. It has digitized the healthcare industry. As magic comes with a price, just like that digitization of healthcare services has brought some significant concerns including data security and data protection. For data security and data protection the ICO has established certain laws and regulations that have to be followed by healthcare professionals and organizations. Not only that technology has also provided cutting edge solutions to protect and secure patient and other sensitive data.
With that said, Medics UK is the proud follower of the data protection and data security guidelines. It ensures that the sensitive data like EMRs is under as many locks and keys as possible which is only accessible to the relevant personnel with permitted access. If you are looking for health care or health tech services feel free to contact medics UK . We believe in “healthcare for all”