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Delivering digital trust in healthcare innovation

Amidst the potential benefits and risks of digital innovation in healthcare, preserving patient trust in systems and devices is vital.

Digital innovation is driving a transformative shift in our society, reshaping the dynamics of how we interact with one another and altering the nature of our relationships with various organizations.

This holds particularly true for the healthcare industry. The global digital healthcare market has witnessed remarkable growth, reaching a valuation of $211 billion in 2022, and is forecasted to maintain a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.6% until 2030. However, this rapid advancement also raises certain concerns.

The growth of digital healthcare technologies

Thanks to new high-tech ecosystems, organizations can now manage and improve patient care both inside and outside of a clinical setting.

The growth of telehealth and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) for remote monitoring, plus a rise in wellness apps and wearables has given consumers the opportunity to experience new levels of convenience in personal healthcare.

However, this fundamental shift towards a digital health landscape and culture relies on trust across all healthcare stakeholders, especially patients, if it is to continue to improve the shape of the overall healthcare framework.

Data security and privacy must sit alongside innovation

With the adoption of new technologies in the broader digital health ecosystem comes a greater role for trust in the flow of consumers’ personal patient health information (PHI).

Increasing numbers of healthcare organizations, both public and private, are migrating from outdated computer systems to cloud computing, making it imperative to maintain security and privacy to anonymize PHI.

Robust security systems can ensure these organizations, regardless of their size, location or model of services, can protect consumers' data. In fact, the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was 4.45 million (USD), underscoring the critical importance of stringent security measures.

However, to date, this appears to be a challenge that has not yet been fully met. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in the UK issued the first penalty for data breaches to an NHS Trust as far back as 2012. However, multiple instances of breaches have occurred since then.

In 2021, the ICO reported a total of 3,557 personal data breaches within the health sector, with the majority occurring within the NHS, over a two-year period up to March 31 of that year.

More recently, an investigation by the Observer discovered that a covert tracking tool in the websites of 20 NHS trusts has been collecting personal browsing information that was shared with tech giant Meta. These records, in some cases, could reveal personal medical details if linked to an individual through their recorded Internet Protocol (IP) address.

Looking beyond data security

Growing IoMT connectivity, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, presents an opportunity but also brings potential challenges that need to be addressed. A major concern for the healthcare sector is the vulnerability of interconnected devices to external threats. The highly regulated sector has seen a considerable rise in data breach costs since 2020, reporting the most expensive data breaches at an average cost of USD 10.93 million.

Connected medical devices are vulnerable to cybersecurity threats and, given the role they play, the potential consequences can be severe. It has been estimated that over 50% of connected medical devices may contain critical vulnerabilities.

How to enhance digital trust in your organization

The integration of health data can allow for rapid and more advanced analytics, as well as continuous and increased monitoring, making it easier to advise patients on appropriate treatments and providers, ultimately improving patient outcomes.

Retaining trust in a digital ecosystem helps to protect these potential benefits.

So, how can your organization and its professionals adopt well-developed security strategies and policies to reduce cyber risks?

There are several measures that healthcare providers can implement to mitigate the risk of a cyber-attack, including:

• Ensuring the physical security and encryption of devices used to store or process sensitive patient data.

• Educating employees on how to recognize an attack.

• Maintaining robust access security on devices, so if devices are lost or stolen, the information cannot be compromised.

• Continuous verification of systems accessing information remain secure, such as requiring strong and regularly changed passwords as well as two-step authentication.

• Implementing and maintaining a quality management system (QMS) that includes information security including those requirements specific to PHI.

Elevate digital trust and quality assurance in your organization

Quality assurance in healthcare applies to the digital world as much as the physical. The growth of digital healthcare ecosystems offers the opportunity to help increase the effectiveness of personalized patient healthcare. If users and stakeholders trust in digital systems and connected devices sits alongside healthcare innovation as an equal partner, those benefits can be fully realised.

Our goal is to enable market access by supporting your organization and the ecosystem, ultimately improving patients' and consumers' quality of life.