Security is a frequently discussed topic within digital healthcare – and it’s not coming as a surprise. Data security and protection of privacy are crucial issues that healthcare providers need to take into account when they communicate and exchange data digitally. At the same time, it’s important to remember that digital transformation opens up a plethora of opportunities that can contribute to security that is far more solid than the traditional telephone calls, letters, and faces. We have listed 5 points that can help establish safer digital healthcare.
1. Authentication – confirms the identity
A fundamental measure to increase the level of security for digital healthcare is to ensure that communication between healthcare providers and patients within the platform is authenticated, ie. that users verify their identity before getting in touch with healthcare. Different tools are used in different countries and different needs, but in the UK, doctors can use employee identification numbers to log in while patients can use NHS login. Authentication ensures that the right people are involved in communication, which in reality cannot be verified in an ordinary telephone call.
2. Encryption – prevents unauthorized use
In many healthcare conversations, sensitive and private matters are discussed, hence it’s critical that this information is not accessible by unauthorised parties. It is important to protect patient data, among other things. in the Swedish Safety Analysis Report För säkerhets skull (in Swedish), 8% of the respondents reported that they withheld information from healthcare professionals on the fear that unauthorised persons will be able to access it.
How can this be prevented in the best way possible? We recommend encryption. By encrypting electronically transmitted information in e.g. video calls or messages means that this information can only be accessed by the participating parties. With encryption, the rest of the information is distorted and unreadable, impossible to interpret without special keys.
3. CE marking – a guarantee of a good level of security
If a tool or platform is CE marked, it means that it meets the basic safety, health, and environmental requirements in accordance with the EU directives that regulate this. CE stands for Conformité Européenne, which means “in accordance with EU directives”. Read more about what it takes to get a product CE marked on the European Commission’s website.
4. GDPR – regulate data storage
By law, all patient data must be stored and handled in accordance with GDPR. This means, among other things, that personal data that is not necessary to store, is deleted after an agreed period of time when the patient’s case is closed.
Through GDPR, which came into force in May 2018 and replaced the PUL, the rules on storage and personal integrity were further tightened and anyone who violates them risks a heavy fine. It is therefore important that the systems and platforms used for digital healthcare can handle the purification and anonymization of personal data in a smooth and secure way.
5. Savvy users and agile tools
Many safety issues can be solved with the help of technology, but at the same time, it is important to think about how and where to use the technology. Video calls allow patients and healthcare professionals to communicate wherever they are, but it may not be appropriate for discussions around sensitive issues in a public environment. It is also important to implement a safety-centred mindset throughout the chain and in the daily routines. Otherwise, it can be like installing a huge lock to avoid break-in and leaving the window open.
In order to get started with security routines, it’s crucial that the tools in use are simple and that the staff gets to know how to manage and navigate them, otherwise, they risk being abandoning it in favour of less secure solutions.
Some of these points may not be as easy to influence, but intuitive and agile systems that can be integrated with other health care systems can at least improve the conditions for frustration and technical inability.