The Importance of Cybersecurity for Telehealth and Virtual Medicine

The Importance of Cybersecurity for Telehealth and Virtual Medicine

Virtual healthcare services spiked during the pandemic, but providers are still experiencing an increased number of patients preferring the convenience of online appointments. While everyday people may like the fact they no longer need to commute to medical facilities, the importance of cybersecurity has never been greater. That’s because hackers persistently target healthcare businesses to steal valuable and sensitive digital information.

Telehealth Growth Attracts Hackers

To say the growth in telehealth services has surged in recent years would be something of an understatement. Research indicates a 4,347 percent growth rate in response to the health emergency from 2019-2020. During the first quarter of 2020 alone, one chain of clinics experienced a 600 percent increase. Some expect online health services to rise 7-fold by 2025. The inherent risks of taking healthcare online are why it’s imperative for all businesses to have a determined cybersecurity program in place.

Although patients may be enjoying relatively seamless access to primary care physicians and specialists today, it wasn’t long ago hackers ran roughshod over platforms such as Zoom. In 2020, the FBI issued a warning after online classrooms were barraged by disruptive cyber intruders.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights has a dedicated page that lists more than 860 data breaches. It also shows the staggering number of businesses and individuals whose information may have been compromised. The platform indicates that no incident involved fewer than 500 protected health information records.

Just over 13 percent of the incursions involved business associates and vendors, and the largest medical cybersecurity breach left more than 3.25 million people exposed. The crucial point is that patient privacy may be at heightened risk unless organizations have a thorough cybersecurity risk management plan in place.

Practice and Patient Privacy Risks

Healthcare data and patient privacy laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), are among the most stringent. Organizations are tasked with maintaining strict compliance. Those that fail to keep digital records safe and secure face hefty government-imposed fines and civil lawsuits. These rank among the common issues a cybersecurity consulting firm identifies.

  • Informed consent miscommunications
  • Identity management failures
  • Failure to maintain patient privacy law compliance
  • Vulnerable legacy IT infrastructure
  • Vulnerabilities through unpatched software
  • Unsecured medical devices and wearables.
  • Lack of telemedicine monitoring and alerts.

It’s also important to keep in mind that more than 90 percent of data breaches are the result of human error. Unless leadership teams require employees to undergo cybersecurity awareness training, the operation’s frontline defenses are susceptible to clever hacking schemes. Although business leaders would be wise to run through a cybersecurity checklist, there are ways to harden virtual medicine defenses by outsourcing.

Cost of Medical Cybersecurity vs Cyber Attack Damage to Healthcare Practice

The cost of medical cybersecurity pales in comparison to the impact of a full-fledged data breach. By outsourcing to a reputable cybersecurity provider, healthcare outfits can work out a scalable program that serves its needs, as well as those of the patients.

Once a cybersecurity risk management plan has been adopted and implemented, a third-party firm can maintain heightened cybersecurity and monitoring efforts that meet regulatory compliances. On the other hand, subpar defenses almost invite hackers to breach the network. These are digital assets that would be in harm’s way.

  • Sensitive patient physical and mental health records.
  • Patient of employee personal identity information.
  • Bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial information.
  • Login credentials of vendor platforms

According to the 2022 Cost of a Data Breach report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, healthcare sector breaches averaged more than $10 million per incident. That number has only increased. Much of the information can be peddled on the dark web for profit. But the most significant impact of getting hacked to practice involves loss of trust and an irreparably damaged reputation.

CyberTeam Delivers Medical Cybersecurity Solutions for Telehealth Service Providers

At CyberTeam, our managed IT and cybersecurity consulting experts have the experience and technology to protect your healthcare company from a data breach or intrusion. We start by conducting a risk assessment to gain a clear understanding of your system’s strengths and vulnerabilities. Then we take the findings and present them to your leadership team to develop a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. Schedule a risk assessment with us and begin the process of improving your defenses.

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