Aug 24 2021

Strengthening Security Protocols Enhances Patient Care

Cybersecurity should be considered an essential part of protecting patients’ health.

Though patients are heading back to the doctor’s office, many plan to keep taking advantage of telehealth services. And with this continued reliance on virtual care options, health IT teams need to strengthen their cybersecurity protocols for patients, providers and everyone else relying on a secure and efficient infrastructure.

There is a technological aspect to providing high-quality care to patients. Nearly 79 percent of patients actually preferred telehealth appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a PatientPop survey, and 1 in 4 patients would prefer a virtual visit whenever possible. Patients are also increasingly turning to online appointment schedulers and seeking easier communication with providers, whether it’s through text, email or patient portals.

That’s why it’s imperative for healthcare systems to strengthen their IT responses, ensuring patient data security and increased digital options so that patients not only get better care but also are more likely to return to a doctor’s office because they felt their needs were met.

Patients Want Digital Access to Healthcare

Seven in 10 patients say ease of use should be a top priority, meaning they want their interactions with their healthcare providers to be as accessible as interacting with brands in other industries, such as booking a restaurant reservation online or paying bills on a mobile app. Avtex’s research also highlights that 68 percent of patients think their providers need to improve interactions with patients.

Though patients are looking for these features from their healthcare providers, they aren’t always thinking about their data security. That’s where health IT teams need to step in to ensure HIPAA compliance and protect all stakeholders from the countless cyberattacks hospitals face daily.

Cybersecurity must be at the forefront of healthcare organizations’ digital transformation strategies, and cementing those protocols will only enhance patient care. Organizations can take simple steps forward by implementing an overall risk assessment, understanding how much sensitive data is being stored and where, knowing who has access to that data and how, and taking stock of devices that use their networks.

READ MORE: Where should hospitals direct their cybersecurity focus?

Cyberattacks Have Healthcare on High Alert

With cyberattacks showing no signs of slowing down, the U.S. government has taken steps this year to show its commitment to increasing cybersecurity efforts across all industries. Healthcare systems are particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks because of the sensitive and valuable patient data access they have.

“Aligning cybersecurity and patient safety initiatives not only will help your organization protect patient safety and privacy, but will also ensure continuity of effective delivery of high-quality care by mitigating disruptions that can have a negative impact on clinical outcomes,” writes one American Hospital Association expert.

As healthcare systems continue to move to a value-based care approach, ensuring patient security needs to be an integral part of their digital transformation strategies. While patients are looking for more digital access, whether through virtual care options or easier communication pathways such as patient portals, IT teams are also needed to help provide better overall healthcare.

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