Cybersecurity in the medical field has become a resounding concern. This is due to reports indicating that cyberattacks are becoming more prominent and more frequent. Healthcare has been one of the biggest targets. Health care is often lucrative for those involved in waste, fraud, and abuse because, despite the rising threat, the health industry mainly remains unprepared to handle cybersecurity issues making this a major public health problem.
- Major cybersecurity concerns of medical documentation
- Why does the cybersecurity of medical documentation need a boost?
- How to mitigate cybersecurity risks
Major cybersecurity concerns of medical documentation
The healthcare industry has become increasingly reliant on technology which is connected to the internet to improve portability and accessibility. The drawback is that this attracts cybercriminals who hack into systems to sell medical reports, siphon money from stolen financial records, ransoming off patient data, hijack drug infusion devices to mine cryptocurrency, shutting down entire hospitals for ransom and other illegal activities.
These risks are worse because mission-critical functions also rely on electronic systems. In the State of Cybersecurity in Health Care Organizations survey conducted in 2014, 61% of respondents agreed that the most at-risk information has to do with medical record systems.
At-risk information includes a large variety of documentation from patient records and lab results to radiology results and hospital finances. Data integration, patient engagement, and clinical support are all benefits of a holistic and connected technological ecosystem. But a vulnerable computer system benefits no one except hackers.
More medical devices can be connected to the Internet now. For instance, certain blood pressure devices have Wifi functionality. However, features like these also increase the risk of potential cybersecurity threats in hospital networks.
Although they serve to provide features that improve health care, these devices on the internet of things lack the security systems that computers and other devices may have. They may, therefore, present an opportunity for hackers to access a connected network using this as an entry point. Furthermore, the vulnerability of security systems impacts the safety and effectiveness of these novel devices.
Granted, these threats and vulnerabilities cannot be eliminated instantly. Therefore, reducing cybersecurity attacks in healthcare poses a challenge since the healthcare environment is vast and complex.
However, manufacturers, hospitals, facilities, and 3rd parties must work together to manage cybersecurity risks and possibly reduce them.
Patients, as well as health providers, need reasonable assurance that the benefits of the advancement of technology in healthcare outweigh the risks.
Top cybersecurity concerns of medical documentation include but are not limited to the following:
- Data leakage
- Loss of control over data
- Unauthorized access
- Legal issues
- Lack of availability of the system
- The integrity of the host platform
- Operational support from IT companies.
Why does the cybersecurity of medical documentation need a boost?
Health care professionals are worried and concerned about the theft of private patient information. Since access to critical medication lists, diagnosis and lab results are not guaranteed, health care professionals feel security breaches undermine patient trust.
Another reason why cybersecurity of medical documentation needs a boost is that the current systems lack both the patient and physician perspective.
Physicians tend to rely on health IT vendors for network and system security but there is little communication between the two. These insights can improve major cybersecurity efforts because these are those who are most affected by security breaches. Cybersecurity is a paramount patient safety issue.
Tantamount measures need to be put in place to ensure the cybersecurity of medical documentation.
Firstly, complying with HIPAA standards and other regulatory requirements is important.
Next, the ability to respond to new or emerging threats as well as the ability to recover quickly from a breach incident is also essential.
The other ideal measures to boost cybersecurity include:
- Assuring resilience of IT operations
- Security training and awareness
- Improving efficiency at lower IT operation costs
- Cybersecurity support for telemedicine or telehealth
- Cybersecurity support for consumer-facing applications such as patient portal and wearables.
- Cybersecurity support for new cloud applications especially with electronic health records and health information exchanges.
How to mitigate cybersecurity risks
Reducing cybersecurity risks is the best course of action against the vulnerabilities of the current system. Medical device manufacturers and health care delivery organizations must play an important role in this process since patients have gained more access to their own health data globally.
Their roles should include putting appropriate measures in place to address patient safety risks as well as ensuring proper device performance.
Medical device manufacturers should be responsible for identifying cybersecurity risks and hazards associated with their medical devices before releasing these devices into the public. Health care delivery organizations should also regularly evaluate their cybersecurity networks and keep their hospital systems updated.
Another step would involve taking stock of the current cybersecurity systems. Health care providers must have strong encryption systems to protect patient data if these systems are not already in place. Multi-factor authentication can also be of benefit in health care systems. Limitations should also be made to who can access patient records.
Additionally, if organizations monitored searches and downloads from their computer systems they could track anyone who downloaded large files and flag them especially if the files contain sensitive data of patients, research, or financial information.
Data-centric security controls like these as well as data breach monitoring and data loss prevention will combat cybercriminals when they try to use targeted threats, malware, password breaking, and other such tactics to access data.
Personnel training is also required to avoid phishing attacks which lead to security breaches. Strategic reminders through seminars and conferences on the importance of cybersecurity in healthcare would be beneficial. Third-party vendors can be involved in training personnel as well as assessing cybersecurity systems and supply chains so they can recommend ways to minimize risks.
Health care organizations should also consider the introduction of newer technologies such as biometric-based security and blockchain. Both of these will be useful since they both have inbuilt verification methods.
However, moving forward will involve critical evaluations and using the best practices regarding cybersecurity. Healthcare organizations have to team up to improve the industry’s security. These organizations should also consider investing in cyber insurance and incident response plans that certainly help to curtail cybersecurity attacks.