Healthcare is an industry that has undergone massive transformation in recent times. The combination of COVID-19 and advancement of digital technologies is the primary reason behind the change. Specifically, the pandemic forced us to follow social distancing norms, drastically limiting in-person patient visits and causing a migration to telemedicine. Much of this change can be attributed to accelerated adoption of technologies like cloud, IoT, AI, and 5G. Services are now available on-demand and from any device, enabling medical care to reach remote locations quickly. Digital healthcare also relieved the stress on healthcare systems during these challenging times, when there was an acute shortage of resources like healthcare workers, hospital beds, and medical equipment, helping save multiple nations from a potential healthcare delivery crisis.
So, how is digital transformation changing the healthcare landscape? Here are a few key elements:
- Telemedicine – Healthcare has evolved with telemedicine practices taking center stage. Patients need not be in the same room with doctors to get medical advice or treatments. They can sit in the comfort of their homes and ask for a remote session for consultation. There are digital platforms completely built with organized records on patient information, video conferencing tools, and prescription-issuing capabilities. Additionally, doctors can now issue prescriptions directly to associated pharmacies directly from the application. The patient just needs to go to the pharmacy and collect the prescribed medication. As per research conducted recently, the global telemedicine market size is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.4% from 2021 to 2028.
- IoT and connected devices – Healthcare IoT is transforming medical care. Patients are using wearable technologies like smartwatches (Fitbit and Garmin) or blood glucose monitors or asthma monitors. They are all sharing data at record speeds across healthcare systems. The most commonly measured data include vital signs such as heart rate (pacemakers), blood pressure, body temperature, blood oxygen (SpO2 indicators), physical activities and other modalities. Not only that, now there are smart devices for conducting surgeries remotely or devices used in ICUs (intensive care units) for monitoring patients with critical health conditions. The patient data being collected and shared is highly sensitive, and its security is mandated by multiple geographic regulations.
- Shifting compliance landscape – COVID-19 forced healthcare delivery to go digital. The web/mobile-based delivery model dominated the market and accounted for the largest revenue share of 78.6% in 2020. Because of such high adoption, regulations in different geographies had to consider securing ePHI (electronic prescriptions, patient reports, and data). Beyond that, compliance rules vary per region – there is HIPAA and CCPA in the U.S., GDPR in Europe, and many more. Therefore, it is important that the security solution implemented by healthcare institutions and associated business functions comply to them. Any default leads to heavy fines, lawsuits, and significant reputation loss.
- Varied user segments – The extended workforce in the healthcare industry covers doctors, nurses, pharmacists, part-time staff, and insurance providers. They all have varying roles and access requirements. As well, users accessing patient records are using different devices like personal mobile phones, diagnostic machines, and verified desktops for accessing sensitive patient information; be it for medical consultation or evaluating financial reimbursements. They all require role-based access controls, frictionless authentication, and authorization to gain access to patient data. A user group that is less talked about is insurance providers – they access patients’ financial records for settling claims for medical treatments and diagnosis, are governed by strict compliance laws protecting PHI, and are independent entities working outside the secured hospital infrastructure.
From a security perspective, the above-mentioned use cases pose multiple security challenges, namely:
- Growing rate of cybercrimes led by ransomware and phishing attacks.
- Secure authentication and authorization of the extended workforce without impacting productivity.
- Adherence to compliance – HIPAA, GDPR, EPCS, and many more.
- Adoption of a cloud-based security solution for protecting their digital infrastructure.
The dynamic access and sharing of patient data through digital mediums by a diverse user segment have created a need for a single security solution to safeguard healthcare delivery. This is where Entrust Identity’s cloud-based IAM solution fills the gap with its extensive capabilities. To know more, join our upcoming webinar on Cybersecurity priorities in healthcare and also check out Entrust solutions for healthcare webpage to gain a better understanding of our security offerings for this industry.