With many health systems now adopting telehealth services, aside from proven engagement outcomes, the highest security standards become the minimum requirement.
Technology is used to connect the patients and the healthcare team, to retrieve, store, transfer or share patient data digitally all from a multitude of sources. So physicians need to be confident that the system is secure, and patients should have faith in the system that they are protected.
Patient safety is about preventing harm in the process of treatment and care-giving, and that process begins with securing patient data and information.
To successfully use technology for communicating care to the patient, the challenge is to balance system privacy/security with usability. Although the case with most solutions, effective security/privacy, and usability do not have to be mutually exclusive. Successful engagement of the patient and provider demands both ease of use and secure communication in one system.
Communicating care through a patient engagement platform is about convenience, patient “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD), engaging content valuable to both patient and provider, and equally as important, security and privacy."
When patients connect to their providers or vice versa via technology, it’s incumbent upon telehealth service providers to put additional measures in place that will prevent any threat from outside sources.
There must be a security layer or process in the communication system to protect data and prevent breach.
Here are the three features to look for in a patient engagement platform, or any health technology used for patient communication:
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets national standards in the protection and secure handling of patient’s electronic personal health information.
It requires healthcare providers to ensure that only authorized individuals have access to the Protected Health Information that is created, received, used, or maintained by a covered entity.
Covered by the HIPAA Security Rule are health plans, health care clearinghouses, and any health care provider who transmits health information in electronic form. When telehealth service providers are HIPAA-compliant, they uphold the confidentiality, integrity, and security of patient data at all times.
HITECH expanded the scope of privacy and security protections of HIPAA for US-based healthcare providers and their business associates, to show that they are using certified Electronic Health Records technology in a way that can be measured in both quantity and quality.
This law also provided more stringent enforcement for the potential legal liability in non-compliance of HIPAA.
HIPAA compliance means there are appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards in place to make sure that sensitive data shared or transmitted are encoded and anonymous, both ways.
For patient’s safety and guarantee, HIPAA standards must be met by their healthcare providers or the data professionals within their healthcare network when handling electronically protected health information.
While HIPAA’s “adequate protection” security rule does not explicitly require encryption, in today’s technology, that equates to encryption.
LifeWIRE is compliant to both HIPAA and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) ensuring security and privacy AND engaging all the parties.
In today’s digital world, so much unprotected data is freely floating on the web for anyone to view and exploit. To protect health information from being compromised, the most basic cybersecurity measure is to encrypt messages.
An algorithm known as cipher is used in modern data encryption to convert information into random characters or symbols, rendering it unreadable to anyone other than its intended recipient.
A special key - Public Key (Asymmetric) and or a Private Key (Symmetric) - is needed to decrypt it. In its non-app based communication through WhisperText(R) LifeWIRE uses the private encryption method for user-to-user text messaging and emails through its patient engagement platform.
Without the need for any app or software, patients are assured that end-to-end encryption shields messages and attachments from anyone except the intended recipients. And any record disappears from the patients device as soon as the session is complete.
Health information and privileged conversations between patient and healthcare providers should be as safe as they can be. And they can be all the while engaging each so as to ensure the most robust data.
Earlier, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote:
“The future of communication will shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and messages and content won't stick around forever. People now value privacy, data security and information integrity than ever before. As more people shift from posting in public social media to closed group and messaging platforms they called dark social, many messaging apps now offer end-to-end encryption.”
Security should not be a limiting factor in a patient’s preference of the channels he/she wants to use.
All means of communicating and exchanging information and transmitting data within the healthcare network should have a security cover.
Whether it’s by email, voice call, text message, wearables, in-app, web-based, cloud-based, any device, anytime and anywhere, the minimum standard is secured communication.
Ensuring maximum security in a patient platform that communicates care in more channels than one is key. The technology needs to be secure from potential cracks in networks, servers, and even devices.
A secure communication platform such that LifeWIRE has developed and in active use includes end-to-end security with several layers of encryption to protect information at all bases - at rest, in transit, and at the user’s or recipient’s device, and covering any channel of choice.in a multi-channel world; whether text, email, chat, voice apps, wearables or a combination of them.
Information needs to be protected. Two examples referenced interchangeably are texting and messaging.
Texting is a traditional and preferred method of communication while messaging is an all-encompassing real-time and increasingly popular form of communication.
Texting is a universal platform that is cellular-based designed to go straight to the recipient’s phone and be viewed almost instantaneously without any intermediary gatekeeper.
Messaging, on the other hand, requires internet protocols, app-based technology, and a log-in plus network connection. It allows the user to connect its users anywhere generally at no additional long distance or mobile cost (depending on carrier data plans where it’s applicable).
Individuals can send text, images, videos, and voice notes – in addition to calling or video chatting and group conversations.
In either form of communication, it’s all about the platform, what is being communicated and the protection built into the service. It needs to be one that can engage the patient anytime, anywhere, in all forms and delivers information in a way that is secure and efficient.
While technologies provide lines of communication, security is the LifeWIRE that connects them.