Over the last years, innovation has been increasing its importance in the healthcare industry constantly. Among the tech leading trends are integrated solutions, smart devices, or real-time analytics. Each healthcare software development company knows that the emerging software can enhance the quality of treatment, provide solutions for different healthcare issues, and improve the overall industry’s performance.
At the same time, such technological enhancements come at a price. Exoft experts can confirm that security problems caused by numerous factors can result in compromising the protected health information (PHI). Also, these issues can even provoke data loss.
Today, the healthcare industry struggles with more breaches compared to other sectors. Criminals steal patient records for selling them on the black market. Also, they can use the patient data for frauds or scams or for blackmailing individuals with sensitive information regarding their physical or mental health. Therefore, every data breach makes government agencies, medical providers, and patients concerned about data security in the healthcare industry.
In this article, you will learn more about critical risks for data security in healthcare software systems. Also, we will analyze the most efficient solutions to ensure data security in healthcare applications.
Healthcare Data Security Fundamentals
First, there is a need to define what protected health information is. According to HIPAA Journal, it consists of “all individual health information, including demographic data, medical histories, test results, insurance information, and other information used to identify a patient or provide healthcare services or health care coverage.” Thus, disclosing protected health information may cause significant harm to patients, along with penalties for healthcare providers that could not ensure the necessary privacy.
But not all healthcare software applications are the subject of data protection legal provisions in various countries. You can determine it easily by checking the functionality of your app. For instance, if you are developing fitness, yoga, healthcare education, medical reference apps, or treatment reminders that do not require users to enter, process, or exchange specific information, you can forget about the legal rules.
However, you need to follow regional and international regulations if your software solution will qualify as:
- Healthcare reference and database application
- Networking application for professionals
- Doctor appointment and clinical assistance application
- Patient tracking application
- Telehealth mobile application
The particular apps deal with personal healthcare data of various types that different healthcare institutions must store, transmit, analyze, and provide strong protection from third-party intervention.
Critical Risks for Data Security in Healthcare Software Systems
Since the number of attacks on protected health information is increasing dramatically, they may lead to much higher losses for healthcare organizations. In this case, healthcare providers need to find out their weakest points targeted by hackers that can provoke data breaches. In Exoft, they always take this shortlist of critical risks into account.
Use of Obsolete Software, Systems, and Technologies
Electronic health records (EHR) deployment has not only improved the quality of healthcare providers’ performance but also increased the risk of potential cyber-attacks. If EHR systems use outdated software and hardware, hackers find it much easier to access information about patients.
Now, the patient’s information is growing faster and faster, which makes storing it efficiently and securely the first point to consider. Thus, more and more healthcare applications use cloud storage to maintain the data flow. But cloud systems may also become a weak point exploited by criminals. It means that the patient data that covers names, numbers, and records can be stolen by third parties, which will result in loss of both trust and investment.
During EHR transfers, your healthcare data is incredibly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. That allows third parties to copy patients’ information easily. Besides, as EHR systems are often fragile, data loss may occur during the transferring process.
Third-Party Data Access
Such a risk factor also makes a huge impact on the healthcare organization’s image and the overall workflow. Criminals can take advantage of it thanks to the patients’ data disclosure and selling.
The particular risk corresponds to the internal app problems caused by bugs, wrong code, or UI design. Also, a typical reason for making data vulnerable is that users often ignore the importance of securing personal login credentials. That may result in account loss. In addition, healthcare employees’ errors can lead to disastrous and expensive consequences for their medical companies. Thus, healthcare organizations should provide security awareness practices for training their workers to make rational decisions if needed.
How to Ensure Data Security in Healthcare Apps?
Fortunately, new software technologies and tools can also come in handy to protect the users’ information. The emerging protection techniques can significantly enhance your healthcare app and allow it to comply with all the necessary regulations. Below we describe the most efficient solutions you can provide your medical app with.
You should apply two or more validation approaches for avoiding third-party intervention. Thus, two-factor authentication serves as an effective method that requires patients to confirm their identity when accessing your software solution. To improve data safety, you need to include information that only users know – for example, PIN or password. Also, you can implement several specific keys like biometrics.
If you want to leverage big data, you need to have huge storage capabilities. In turn, the larger the data volumes you store, the more difficult their management is. But thanks to backing up, archiving the data, and disposing of the unnecessary files, you can save up resources and improve the overall data security.
Continuous Application Testing & Updates
Healthcare apps require continual improvements. You need to perform regular tests of the software system to find and fix any bugs and vulnerabilities. That is crucial for protecting the patient’s data. Besides, you can benefit from optimizing your app’s UX.
By applying the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols, your healthcare organization can create and maintain a secure environment that only authorized employees will use. Another critical advantage of this technology is that SSL protocols can provide a secure encrypted connection with the help of public and private keys. That allows improving your server’s security, along with data security.
Data loss is often caused by cyber-attacks. Therefore, if you want to avoid them, you should make regular backups of all your information. Nowadays, multiple hosting companies offer backup and recovery services that are necessary for leveraging big data. The ability to store the patients’ data in various places can cut down the number of data protection issues and make your software system more resistant to vulnerabilities.
You need to encrypt all protected patients’ data in compliance with the required international and regional legal acts. At the same time, this option allows providing limited access only for authorized medical employees. Thus, even when the server is compromised, your information will remain encrypted and inaccessible to criminals.
The Bottom Line
Data security in healthcare software is among the most critical points you have to consider when developing your own medical app. After all, the data vulnerability may result in business losses and affect the organization’s reputation and internal operations. But thanks to new software technologies, you can avoid data breaches and other issues around your protected health information and enhance your customer experience.