Medical Data Security Concerns and Possible Solutions

Medweb CEO Dr. Peter (Pete) Killcommons operates a telemedicine company that installs remote radiology equipment in hospitals, and offers other telemedicine services in underserved areas. One concern Dr. Peter Killcommons addresses in his work is ensuring patients’ data is safe while they attend their appointments remotely. Following are a few key medical data security issues, and how to address them.

Medical data security concerns extend beyond preventing unauthorized access to patient medical records. Hackers target medical data to steal a patient’s identity because they are more permanent than other forms of financial information, which a consumer can monitor more easily. Further, hacking medical devices endangers patients’ lives, because tampering with a device like an insulin pump will result in severe consequences for its user. Not only do medical device manufacturers need to improve how they alert users to security breaches, but they should implement preventive cybersecurity measures so breaches don’t happen at all.

One method to improve medical data cybersecurity is to create secure passwords for apps accessing medical data. A 2015 international survey of 299 medical students, nurses, interns, and medical residents found that 73 percent of those surveyed said that they had used a coworker’s credentials to access medical data at least once. One reason participants gave for doing so was to save time while caring for patients. App developers should prioritize ease of use, so users can maintain strict cybersecurity protocol without sacrificing their ability to provide timely care.