How to Enhance Telehealth IT Security in 2021

Peter McCarthy, Vice President

How private, cloud-based telehealth solutions can address security and compliance issues, as well as enable powerful interoperability and integration features.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many hospitals looked to the cloud to quickly deploy new telehealth solutions. This was easier and more scalable than establishing on-premises hospital IT solutions, and the sudden urgency for remote healthcare meant that technology was sometimes chosen without a long-term strategy in mind.

As you look to what’s next, you may have questions about the telehealth IT infrastructure you deployed during the pandemic.

  • Is it really secure enough for the long term?
  • Are you missing out on major potential for added value with a more integrated solution?
  • How can you find a solution that’s both secure and scalable?

Increased cloud-based telehealth has raised IT security concerns

In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, Veritas reported that cloud adoption in healthcare core operations was as high as 83%. However, only 7% of these cloud services were found to meet compliance and security norms. This major discrepancy could be due to some leeway granted to organizations that didn’t fully follow HIPAA compliance in the U.S., GDPR in Europe, or other healthcare data regulations, due to the critical need for providing remote care. But what about now?

Security vendor Vectra’s 2020 Spotlight Report on Healthcare highlights why the rapid shift to cloud hosting for telehealth has greatly increased IT security risks. The report found that implementations of technology were often done in a hurry and without the proper due diligence on vendors and configurations, creating a much larger threat. This means that hospital IT is more vulnerable, and at the same time, attacks are on the rise.

To add insult to injury, average global data breach costs were the highest for the healthcare industry, reaching $7.13 million according to the Ponemon Institute’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report for IBM. In addition to the costs of identifying and responding to a data breach, this was compounded because of the heavy regulatory fines for non-compliance with data protection regulations.

With telehealth here to stay, it’s time to move beyond quick fixes and implement long-term solutions that ensure security and compliance with regulations. But security is not the only consideration for a future-proof telehealth platform. How do you also maximize value?

An integrated platform can improve telehealth ROI

Perhaps you run video consultations with patients over one cloud service, monitor wearable data through another app, use an electronic health record (EHR) system for medical records, and use yet another tool for appointment scheduling. The problem is that none of these systems are integrated with one another. Sound familiar? This system complexity causes several problems that get in the way of achieving the full ROI and potential of telehealth.

For instance, it’s hard for your staff to work efficiently when they must flip between many different application windows to find information, due to a lack of interoperability. And it’s difficult to respond to today’s rapidly changing needs when you can’t effectively practice data-driven decision making, which requires real-time data analytics. KLAS Research found that 65% of healthcare organizations had still not solved the challenge of real-time data analytics and 39% were still stuck on interoperability in late 2020. All of this means you can no longer afford to have patient data in many different silos with non-interoperable solutions.

The answer is a more integrated telehealth platform that allows you to bring all those workflows, applications, devices, and data together in one place. This will create more synergies across your operations and unlock the full potential of telehealth across your organization. However, telehealth platforms with robust integrations are usually installed and managed on-site, while cloud-based telehealth allows you to easily scale based on patient demand, freeing up your team to focus on the business of healthcare instead of IT maintenance. Does this mean you have to give up on the scalability, flexibility, and simplicity of the cloud if you want a secure and interoperable solution? Not necessarily.

A private cloud solution for telehealth

Consider hosting your telehealth application in a private cloud environment to maintain full control over your data. This allows you to reduce or eliminate security and compliance issues while retaining cloud agility. Solutions like Pexip Health can combine a private cloud deployment option with powerful interoperability and integration features normally found only in self-hosted solutions. When it comes to telehealth, the future is now, and it’s time to fully modernize your healthcare organization with a solution that’s both secure and scalable.

About the Author:
Peter McCarthy is Vice President, Pexip Health. Peter has been selling in the video conferencing industry for 20 years, including Commercial, Government and Healthcare markets. His healthcare experience started in 2005 with Veterans Affairs at a company called TANDBERG. There, his team built the Video Infrastructure for the VA, which later became on one of the largest video networks in the world. Peter learned how telehealth could work as a healthcare model to aid clinicians, improve patient outcomes, and reduce hospital readmissions.