Tech Tip: Healthcare Technology Innovation Raises Data Privacy Concerns


Technology has changed the way healthcare is delivered to patients, and it has helped stabilize costs, increase access, and personalize the care delivery process. These innovations, however, have led many to question the privacy of patient data, bringing the issue front and center.

Let’s take a look at how IT has changed the way the healthcare industry functions in regard to data privacy.

Technological Improvements to Healthcare

IT has completely revolutionized the way the healthcare industry – one which has traditionally remained quite antiquated – operates. Here are some of the changes:

  • Better and faster access to medication: Medication requires prior authorization, meaning someone has to give the patient permission to access it. They need to have a prescription from a doctor. Digital systems allow the medication supply chain to provide faster and more efficient access to medication, meaning patients don’t have to wait days or longer to get the care they need.
  • Smarter medical devices: Smart systems, like Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), give doctors and patients the ability to access patient medical records at a record pace. Mobile devices and secure cloud environments make sharing medical information across devices significantly easier, meaning that it is that much more likely for healthcare providers to have up-to-date medical records on file.
  • Better foresight: The pandemic has ushered in a new age of preparedness, as the sudden onset of the public health disaster left many without a plan of action. Thanks to enhanced databases and other predictive online tools, healthcare organizations can stay one step ahead of outbreaks of contagious diseases.

The Issue with Data Privacy

The key problem with using IT systems to disseminate medical records and other personal health information (PHI) is that it becomes more of a cybersecurity risk to do so. This is why many organizations have resisted upgrading their systems for so long, and it is a valid concern. Cybercriminals can glean considerable value and profits from healthcare information.

Therefore, if companies want to invest in their systems, they also have to invest in cybersecurity. Otherwise, the integration can become more of a risk than a benefit. It would be foolish to invest in technology without also investing in cybersecurity. There is currently a push in the U.S. to have the Food and Drug Administration establish clear guidelines organizations should meet if they want to adhere to established cybersecurity best practices for systems and endpoints. Many systems are being developed to use innovative new technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence to improve security of PHI, and hopefully healthcare providers can implement these systems to reduce costs and provide better care to their patients.

To learn more, call Computerware today at (703) 821-8200 or go to: https://www.cwit.com/blog.

Alan Edwards, CISM, is chief information officer at Computerware, Inc., in Vienna, Virginia.

 

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