The Importance of Cyber Security for Remote Patient Monitoring

When it comes to new technology, protecting the flow of data is crucial in a world of cybercrime and security. This is especially vital in today's healthcare fields as a patient's data can be a prime target for criminals. 

The RPM ecosystem has become a prime target for criminals searching the world wide web for their next victim. Healthcare professionals and patients alike are at risk of security breaches. While numbers may be small, 44 violations out of 700,000, there may be a significant rise as remote patient monitoring becomes a more commonplace occurrence. While many platforms have some positive platforms in relating to cybersecurity, the new frontier of telehealth may prove to be the weakest link.

Even with current established protocols and procedures on the healthcare facility's side of the server, the patient's home may prove less secure when it comes to the transmission of data. It is here that many criminals may seek a weakness in the overall cyber defenses of RPM and exploit them from this angle. With RPM, it's crucial to introduce new controls and implement the appropriate safeguards. RPM technology has introduced unknown risks to security and has potentially left open new doors for cybercriminals searching for a patient's or provider's data.

The Rapid Increase of RPM

Many of the issues surrounding RPM potential security risks is its rapid growth. While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS may reimburse providers for certain RPM services, it leaves a lot open for these codes to be performed by RNs and other medical assistants. This will lead to a potential $31.3 billion by the end of 2023. This money will draw a lot of attention to those seeking to obtain this new flow of money illegally. 

Traditionally, most patient monitoring systems were done within the healthcare facility and in controlled environments. Now, as RPM has advanced at a faster pace, then technology has kept up, this leaves more avenues of risk open as RPM is deployed within a patient's home. This will mean less security for the collection and transferring of data.

NCCoE and NIST in RPM

Because of this, the NCCoE or National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence has launched the "Securing Telehealth RPM Ecosystem." With this research project, the NCCoE has applied the NIST Cybersecurity Framework for all risk management performances in a lab environment. As a study, it has examined how clinics and other health delivery organizations use RPM with patients with chronic illness or those needing post-operative monitoring. This project, however, only focused on medical diagnostic aspects of RPM and not any risks specific to a third-party provider.

The use of all third-party platforms with any video conferencing abilities and the use of cloud devices and RPM will continue to rise and move forward. It's essential for the patient's and provider's security that any infrastructure supporting them will maintain the integrity, confidentiality, all patient data, and ultimately protect the patients involved. 

With RPM, this is a first when it comes to looking into a patient's home, the telehealth platform, and the provider of the healthcare delivery organization. It's also the first look into the flow of data from all these environments and the different points where a security vulnerability may be at risk. This also opens up opportunities to put in safeguards to protect a patient's privacy while getting care within the comfort of their home. While a healthcare facility is a more controlled environment, the deployment of RPM to a patient's house opens up avenues for risks in security. This is where the NIST Cybersecurity Framework has become an integral part of a hospital's safety net and securing all telehealth and RPM services and devices.

Trends in RPM Data Collection and Security

Part of keeping systems and patient data secure is knowing what to expect. Every type of data collection comes with its own set of security issues that need to be resolved as new technology comes with new problems. One of these is wearable patient monitoring. Patient-generated health data or PGHD is any data collected from a caregiver or the patients to help healthcare providers address any health concerns. All data collected is through RPM using mobile medical devices and other technology that transmits information. Monitoring like this is usually more common in chronically ill patients or high-risk individuals like the elderly. RPM gives providers immediate access to a patient's data so that any health concerns can be addressed immediately. Some examples are glucose meters, heart rate and blood pressure monitors, surveillance monitors, and home tests for substance abuse.

Since telehealth makes healthcare more personal as it evolves, this also makes it more accessible to more people. This has proven essential for those living in remote or rural areas. For a patient who has an acute health condition, they may not be able to travel to see their provider. With RPM and telehealth, they can speak to someone immediately. This also allows doctors and providers to receive data in real-time to address concerns directly. This can mean faster prescriptions and saving both parties time and money for an office visit or waiting for an appointment.

Artificial Intelligence is currently being used to revolutionize the way a provider can work with their patient. Because of this, data collection and even processing are being put on autopilot as more automated processes are introduced into RPM services. AI can assist in more efficient surgery as well and take data from past medical records and even surgeries to guide a surgeon's instruments. 

Cybersecurity and Accessing the Remote Desktop

All the information needed for telehealth and RPM services must be remotely accessed through safe and secure channels. It also represents a significant amount of risks in the realm of cybersecurity. Following cybersecurity measures is integral to protecting personal information and, in particular, FDA regulations along with HIPAA compliance. Breaches can occur in many ways like Phishing scams, unsecured remote desktop connections, ransomware, unpatched servers, and third-party providers.

Desktop solutions like tablets, PCs, X-ray machines, digital diagnostic testing equipment, and local servers offer numerous benefits in choosing which remotes desktop solution is the best. Also, streamlining and simplifying your IT department and giving them more control with centrally managed remote access will ensure each one is unique and have a fully managed firewall to provide access rights to the correct people. Also, it will allow your IT department to approach your RMP security using a multilayered approach using secure lines, manage user access and user rights, and document all activity. 

Due to the regulations in place, all RPM solutions must be fully compliant with HIPAA and other legislation related to the healthcare field. Remote access should offer secure and configurable solutions that are HIPAA-compliant and using encryption that is laid out by NIST. Protecting your patient's data is as essential as monitoring their health from a distance. They trust you to keep everything safe, including their loved ones and information. With tighter cybersecurity protections, you can help your patient even more by giving them extra peace of mind in their care.

Accuhealth was formed when a team of cybersecurity professionals realized that the future of healthcare was going to involve remote patient monitoring and that most companies were building RPM systems that were too difficult for physicians and patients. They knew that with their technical and cybersecurity expertise, they could build a solution that was easier and more effective than what most of the industry was doing. To find out more about how you can start your own remote patient monitoring program today with no commitments and no upfront costs visit accuhealth.tech

 



References:

https://blog.netop.com/3-trends-in-data-collection-for-health-care 

https://www.magmutual.com/learning/article/remote-patient-monitoring-what-compliance-professionals-need-know/

https://www.cyberdefensemagazine.com/securing-the-remote-patient-monitoring-ecosystem/

https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/nist-mitre-offer-cybersecurity-tips-telehealth-deployments





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