The Importance of Cybersecurity in Healthcare

By the Siilo team.

The healthcare industry is currently facing a shift towards increased digitisation. Numerous digital health platforms have entered the market, offering a wide array of services. Product pledges such as making medical care more easily accessible, facilitating collaboration of medical staff, and allowing for faster diagnoses have become increasingly more accepted in the past years.

With the Covid-19 pandemic magnifying our needs within healthcare communication, the sector expects rapid growth through 2025. Meanwhile, it will be of utmost importance to identify user needs and to increase security measures for patient data protection.

 

Everything is Connected

 

The increasing digitisation of healthcare and the growing number of digital medical platforms offer numerous advantages to patients as well as to medical staff. On the one hand, patients can get in touch with doctors more easily and experience shorter referral times, saving them energy and money. On the other hand, communication amongst medical professionals is facilitated by platforms such as Siilo, allowing them to safely debate patient cases and, therefore, reaching correct diagnoses faster than previously possible.

 

The High Value of Patient Data

 

As advantageous the rapid growth of digital interconnection is in healthcare, it also poses a risk. The fast pace at which digital health platforms are introduced to the market often does not allow for extensive safety inspections on two ends: that of the app-creator and that of the end-user (be it hospitals, doctors or patients).

However, patient data are to be seen as highly valuable goods that need safeguarding at the highest standard: To doctors they are crucial in order to reach accurate diagnoses and save their patients´ lives. To patients they are invaluable because they contain sensitive personal and financial information all in one spot.

The latter is the reason why digital health platforms have been increasingly attracting the attention of hackers. Due to a lack of security measures, it has been fairly easy to hack into some systems, holding patient data hostage with ransomware.

 

Saving Lives Digitally

 

If digital health platforms are to be normalized on a broader scale in the immediate future, it will be critical to make patients feel safe physically as well as in the digital realm. Two complementary approaches to increase patient data safety have been identified so far:

First, it is essential that the latest data protection strategies are applied. These include the installation of the most current software updates, well-maintained back-ups, the use of virtual private networks (VPN), and even application of blockchain technology (where the “block” of transactional information is stored in “chains” of several databases).

Second, training medical staff on these digital tools will be crucial to success. If all staff know how to correctly use the latest applications and software and how to identify phishing emails, patient data security will be increased tremendously.

 

Conclusion 

 

Digital health platforms have proven themselves capable of making the lives of both patients and medical professionals easier. Some of the new platforms which have conquered the market, offer facilitated doctor-patient communication. Others, such as Siilo, allow fast and structured exchange between medical professionals, leading to better diagnoses in less time.

However, the focus of future medical practice cannot only lie on the patients’ physical health and safety anymore. Instead, it will have to include the safety of their digital data as well. In order to gain the trust of existing and future users, digital health platforms will have to ensure the latest technical security advancements and correct training of all staff using their software.