Two rising trends are on a collision course: telemedicine and healthcare data breaches. As increasing numbers of healthcare organizations implement or expand telemedicine programs, and as more patients rely on text messages, email, or video to communicate with providers, personal health information (PHI) is at more risk than ever before. Now considered worth 10 times more than credit card information, as reported by Reuters, PHI is an attractive target for unscrupulous hackers. Thus, it is imperative that healthcare organizations and vendors prioritize security and compliance measures and keep telemedicine HIPAA-compliant.
Although the HIPAA Security Rule requires healthcare organizations to ensure that home health care givers, contractors at call centers, and other employees maintain confidentiality, keeping technology secure is a murkier subject. Many organizations have higher level compliance that may not trickle down to individual services or products, and vendors must be held to the same standard.
To ensure peace of mind, when exploring the adoption of a technology service, consider an independent audit by cybersecurity risk management advisors. Do your own research into whether the technology is HIPAA-compliant, and only choose partners who are willing to sign a business associate agreement—a key component of the HIPAA standard.
In-house, make sure that all of your employees and contractors who access PHI are working within a secure, HIPAA-compliant virtual desktop. This especially applies to remote care givers since IT departments have little or no control over the remote device to ensure updated security measures.
Telemedicine offers huge opportunities for giving patients the care they want at lower costs. However, doing this successfully and safely necessitates actively pursuing technology and vendors that meet HIPAA requirements while allowing care givers to be productive.
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