Digital Trust in healthcare: Innovation vs protection

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In recent years, we've come to realize how crucial it is to have a seamless, high-tech ecosystem in place to manage and improve patient care. Thanks to advances in technology, we're now able to do that both inside and outside the clinical setting.

Rise of digital healthcare technologies

Significant trends in telehealth and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) for remote monitoring, plus a rise in wellness apps and wearables, have drawn consumers into the convenience of coordinating their personal healthcare. However, many consumers and patients still lack trust in these modern technologies. This doesn’t come as a surprise. A 2022 State of Ransomware Report highlights that the US saw a 94% rise in ransomware attacks within just 12 months in 2021.

With the adoption of new technologies in the broader digital health ecosystem comes a heightened need for trust in the flow of consumers’ personal patient health information (PHI). Increasing numbers of healthcare organizations are migrating from legacy systems to cloud computing, making it imperative to maintain security and privacy to anonymize PHI. Strict security requirements must be implemented to protect consumers' data, regardless of their size, location, or model of services.

Growing IoMT connectivity presents a further nuance to the cybersecurity challenge. A major concern for the healthcare sector is the vulnerability of interconnected devices to external threats, usually in the form of viruses, hack-attacks, or denial of services ransomware. The stakes could scarcely be higher here as they directly impact patient health, safety, and can potentially lead to death. Healthcare leaders must therefore ensure vital hospital facilities and power supplies can’t fall into the wrong hands, not to mention control of smart medical devices and implants.

How to increase digital trust in healthcare

Assuring consumers’ overall trust in innovative digital health technologies has raised the visibility for businesses and healthcare professionals to have well developed security strategies and policies in place to thwart cyber threats. New technologies and shifts to remote consultations have contributed to numerous healthcare organizations experiencing the havoc a cyber-attack can cause and the subsequent impact on wider society.

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

  • Ensuring the physical security of devices used to store or process sensitive patient data.
  • Educating employees on how to recognise a phishing attack.
  • Maintaining that the information stored on devices is protected, so if devices are lost or stolen, the information cannot be compromised.
  • Verifying that the systems used to access information remain secure, such as requiring strong and regularly changed passwords and two-step authentication.
  • Implementing and maintaining a quality management system (QMS) for Information Security that includes extra requirements for managing patient health information.

Learn more about digital trust in healthcare and how to improve quality, sustainability, and digital innovation here. Look out for the latest Digital Trust whitepaper: Supporting the healthcare ecosystem. For more insights on other Digital Trust, Privacy, Information Security, and Environmental, Health, and Safety topics that should be at the top of your organization's list, visit BSI's Experts Corner.