The COVID pandemic has accelerated the adoption of technology, allowing people to get things done from the comfort of their homes. This did not leave out healthcare, forcing people to switch to telehealth and remote patient monitoring platforms. Despite the benefits, some are apprehensive because of inherent problems, like cybersecurity issues, data privacy concerns, and lack of trust in telehealth and remote patient monitoring platforms. According to a survey conducted by Arlington Research, although the results confirmed the increasing use of telehealth platforms and remote patient monitoring globally, there is still a lot of distrust as 52% of telehealth service providers state patients decline using these platforms for security concerns.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) & telehealth consultancy services post-COVID has become the norm because it enables patients to avail themselves of healthcare consultation from the safety of their homes without exposing themselves to the virus. However, providers are challenged because, in medicine, a reassuring look or a sympathetic ear from the care physician goes a long way in curing the disease. And while the patient shares medical data with the telehealth professional, it may remain uncertain how many more people access it other than the physician. Therefore, it can result in the data falling into the wrong hands, leading to an invasion of data privacy.
Regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) could come into the picture during a data leak incident affecting patients’ privacy and leave the telehealth community service provider poorer by a substantial sum by way of penalties. Nevertheless, the benefits of telehealth consultation outweigh the challenges by a fair margin, such as:
- Preventing the patient from contracting infectious illnesses while visiting the hospital doctor physically;
- Saving patient time by getting virtual appointments as an alternative to lower acuity emergency visits, urgent care visits, and after-hours consultations;
- Overall increased patient satisfaction; and
- Being cost-effective for both patients and service providers.
What are the top 5 cybersecurity features to look for in your remote patient monitoring (RPM) platform?
While it is beneficial to the patient and the health provider, healthcare organizations should consider these aspects before offering remote patient monitoring and telehealth services.
1. Compliance with HIPAA
Remote patient monitoring and telehealth providers must comply with HIPAA regulations as traditional healthcare providers do. Thus, protecting the patient’s information is crucial. Simultaneously, they must be careful when storing patients’ data, especially the electronic files, videos, and images. Using platforms not dedicated to the purpose, like Facetime or Skype, can result in data privacy issues.
2. Following NIST Guidelines
Providers should comply with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework by ensuring full encryption of all data exchanges with the patient. In addition, there should not be any exposure of patient data to third parties in any way.
3. Adhering to Steps Laid Down by NCCoE
Remote patient monitoring and telehealth providers should follow the guidelines laid down by the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) for securing the remote patient monitoring & telehealth ecosystem. The procedures must be followed while implementing safeguards, detecting anomalies and security events, responding to, mitigating security threats, and recovering from a cybersecurity incident.
4. Balanced Focus on PPT (People, Process, and Technology)
While cybersecurity and other issues concerning data privacy protection are critical, telehealth service providers should develop an overall prioritized approach when developing solutions by concentrating equally on people, processes, and technology.
5. Getting Certified with Industry-best Security Standards
RPM and telehealth providers should comply with FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) publications and FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) regulations. In addition, it would be in their favor to subscribe to ISO 27001 certification. They must adhere to international security standards and ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of entrusted patient information.
Other Tips to Enhance Provider Service in Telehealth and RPM
While RPM and telehealth service organizations follow the best practices prescribed by industrial regulations, the following steps could help them improve and raise the quality of their offerings to the next level.
- Keep the conversation concise and straightforward by avoiding heavy medical terms that the patients cannot understand.
- Create the right professional environment by reserving a specific space in your clinic when conducting virtual visits.
- It is advisable to have an efficient internet connection because a disruption in the transmission is the last thing that a patient desires.
- Have appropriate lighting in your room to ensure a clear video.
- Concentrate on the job at hand and avoid other distractions, like multiple programs running in the background, etc.
- Have information at your fingertips. Patients lose confidence in medical professionals who take too long or struggle to make the correct diagnosis.
COVID-19 has brought with it several irreversible changes, including the way patients consult their doctors. Thus, remote patient monitoring & telehealth service providers are flourishing globally and providing online healthcare services. While there are many challenges like cybersecurity and regulatory issues regarding data privacy associated with remote patient monitoring & telehealth services, it has proved significantly beneficial to the people. While it requires these service providers to observe sufficient precautions to prevent leakage of PII (personally identifiable information) of the patient and win their trust, remote patient monitoring is here to stay and thrive for the multiple benefits it offers.
DrKumo Can Help
DrKumo has the best remote patient monitoring platform since it has all the five cybersecurity features as an effective solution to ensure safe data transmission from patients to providers. Contact us for more information.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, February 19). Trends in Use of Telehealth Among Health Centers During the COVID-19 Pandemic – United States, June 26-November 6, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7007a3.htm
- Vaidya, A. (2021, November 30). 52% of providers say patients declined telehealth due to security concerns. mHealthIntelligence. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/52-of-providers-say-patients-declined-telehealth-due-to-security-concerns.