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Why Telehealth’s Next Big Hurdle Is Security

Telehealth solutions have really come into their own since the start of the coronavirus crisis. Even though necessity forced telehealth onto the American healthcare landscape, the healthcare industry has responded by giving patients what they want. With the ball now rolling at full speed, telehealth’s next big hurdle is security.

A recent study from Kaspersky reveals profound levels of mistrust of telehealth technology among both patients and clinicians. This, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of healthcare providers now offer telemedicine options to some degree. To be fair, a lack of trust is not primarily related to quality of care. Rather, it is skepticism of a provider’s ability to protect sensitive customer data.

Telemedicine Is the Norm

Kaspersky partnered with Arlington Research to interview executives from some 389 healthcare companies in thirty-four countries around the world. About half the companies employ more than a thousand people while the remainder employed between fifty and 999. Here are the study’s key findings:

  • 91% already utilize telehealth solutions in one form or another
  • 44% didn’t begin utilizing telehealth until the pandemic
  • 56% are planning to increase telehealth and virtual care investment
  • 32% acknowledge facing cyber security issues due to lack of security
  • 30% acknowledge having patient information stolen.

The last two statistics reveal why both clinicians and patients are somewhat wary of telehealth security. Despite being willing to utilize the technology, clinicians and patients do not necessarily trust that their interactions, or the data derived from them, are truly secure.

Lack of Trust in Patients

Some of the respondents indicated that they had dealt with patients who ultimately refused telehealth because they were concerned about security. Some were concerned that their private information would not be protected. Others were worried that video calls were not secure, thus resulting in them not wanting their faces to be shown on camera.

All this points to a profound problem for healthcare providers looking to go virtual. That problem is securing the trust of patients who were already suspect of the industry as a whole. If patients did not trust healthcare providers to promote their best interests prior to the pandemic, additional mistrust of telehealth only stands to make things worse.

Security Must Be a Priority

If nothing else, the results of the Kaspersky study make it clear that security must be a priority for companies developing telehealth solutions. One such company is San Antonio-based CSI Health. They build medical kiosks, portable telehealth kits, and other telemedicine solutions with built-in diagnostic tools.

CSI Health products also deliver real-time data that travels from remote telemedicine solution to the provider’s computer network. Data transfer takes place through the company’s secure cloud platform. When all is said and done, both patients and providers have to be confident that CSI Health makes security a priority.

The Healthcare Challenge

Healthcare faces a somewhat unique challenge in that the industry deals with more than just names, phone numbers, and addresses. Healthcare data is especially sensitive because it contains details that make it possible for bad actors to learn more about victims than they could with any other hacking strategy.

Not only that, but implementation of the Affordable Care Act has also forced providers to adopt integrated record-keeping solutions that make data available across vast networks. The more networks a patient’s data appears on, the more vulnerable it is.

On the one hand, it is good to know that healthcare providers have gone all-in on telehealth. On the other hand, security remains a top concern. It is the next hurdle healthcare providers have to overcome to provide patients with the best possible care.

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