Cyber Security for patient-centric care


Modern technology brings a range of varied and exciting applications that can be used in the Health and Aged Care industries. However, with these benefits also come the risks, and cyber security is an issue that needs to be addressed  - especially when it comes to consumer-centric services.

With so many key health and aged care departments adopting more IoT and patient-centric care approaches, a single malfunction could see a multitude of private information leaked across unknown sources. Providers need to have a means by which to address these concerns, as well as an actionable plan to utilise should a breach occur.

The Risks

 The introduction of healthcare applications and web-based services has seen the need for data security and privacy become a top priority across the board. With data as valuable as ever, and patient-centric information a prime target for personal attacks, organisations need to be very much aware of their cybersecurity risks. Your company should be prepared to respond to breaches in information regarding patient information, as well as your own internal, external, and wireless penetration risks.

Wireless itself is an especially vulnerable medium due to its unbounded nature and popularity. Easily accessed and widely used, even invisible wireless systems are vulnerable to cyber attacks. Not only can they act as a portal into a system but they can be used as an invisible back door for monitoring, mining, and malfeasance. Providers of wireless, and practitioners who use and support wireless systems amongst their patients, should be increasingly aware of their vulnerability.

Information has always been a prized asset, but it is far more accessible in the modern world. Patients provide their practitioners with their private information, along with banking and insurance details, contact numbers, addresses, caregiver names, and a range of other intel that is kept in private. Most of the time, this information is shared because the provider is a trusted source, their systems and staff believed to be safe. Should a breach occur, patient information and data are not only at risk, but patient confidentiality and trust become increasingly vulnerable too.

In healthcare, medical data is not the only thing risked in a cybersecurity attack. With advances in IoT, even medical devices can be targeted. In recent years, devices such as insulin pumps, pacemakers, and other mobile, patient-centric devices have become vulnerable. If one of these were to be hacked, a patient’s life could be at risk – not just their information.  While there have yet been no reports of such an incident occurring, the possibility is there and organisations need to become increasingly conscious of their cybersecurity efforts.

The Response

A good cyber-security system will be as tailored to your needs as your patient-centric approach is to your customers’. The goal should be to not only reduce the risk of cyber breaches but to also prepare for management in the event of a breach. At the end of the day – preparation is the forefront of your defence. Creating architectural visibility within your network is a great place to start. If your company does not have a threat plan ready to activate, then one should be created and tested so that customer information is kept safe, reliable, and trustworthy.

This means developing a coherent plan for optimising network monitoring, a plan that:

  • deploys inline security tools
  • filters IP addresses to reduce security risks
  • applies intelligence and machine learning to detect malware and rogue applications
  • optimises out-of-band security tools

The final goal of improving network visibility is to enable IT teams to see threats with greater clarity and respond as quickly as possible. It must also be considered when best to begin troubleshooting, and at what stage extreme security measures should be taken in order to protect patient data.

Next Steps

The opportunity to pursue patient-centric care and apply technologies that improve an individual’s quality and control of life should be celebrated and further explored. However, being aware of the cybersecurity risks is absolutely paramount to a company’s success. The best defence is preparation and strategy, and staying on top of your security is critical to staying ahead of the game.

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