Top 5 ways to secure your remote medical practice
The COVID-19 pandemic is presenting many challenges for medical professionals. However, due to the help of technology and the possibilities of remote work, many medical practices can safely continue to offer their services. Healthcare professionals are adapting to the circumstances, requiring masks and regular sanitation procedures on site, as well as offering telemedicine services remotely.
Indeed, telemedicine is becoming a major trend during the pandemic. Video conferencing technology and other tools are allowing doctors and health professionals to give appointments to their patients from their own homes. Although not as effective as face-to-face exams, telemedicine enables much-needed long-distance advice, care and follow-up for high-risk patients.
However, there are several cybersecurity threats when practicing medicine remotely. Physicians may not access sensitive data securely, putting them and their patients at risk of a data breach. Not only is this dangerous for doctors and patients, it could violate HIPAA regulations. It is vital that medical professionals working from home use secure connections to access data and review patient records.
For those planning to set up a remote medical practice, here are five ways to ensure they can practice telemedicine safely:
1. Set up a secure VPN to access data.
A virtual private network (VPN) provides a secure connection to the servers on the site through an Internet connection. Businesses set up VPNs to allow their employees remote access to their business networks from any location.
The VPN works by securing the connection between the user and the servers, as if it were a tunnel that encloses any information that is sent through the VPN. It also encrypts any file traveling over the network so that even if an unauthorized user intercepts the data, they won’t be able to read the file.
To set up a VPN, work with a remote network security professional who can set up a network that works best for your practice.
2. Roll out MFA to all devices and accounts.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security measure that protects accounts from hacking. MFA involves multiple security steps to gain access to a device or account. When a user tries to log in, they must provide additional information in addition to the username and password.
For example, you may be asked a series of personal questions (decided on by yourself) to which no one else knows the answers. Fingerprint scanning is a more modern example that is frequently used with mobile technology. Another second authentication factor can be a text code sent to your mobile device.
MFA prevents about 99.99% of account hacking attempts. It adds depth to security measures, keeping your devices and accounts safe and should be added to each and every account and device.
3. Make sure your Internet connection is secure with adequate bandwidth and connectivity.
The security, speed, and bandwidth of your internet connection should be checked to ensure data on your devices can be safely accessed. You should also install antivirus and theft prevention software to minimize the risk of a data breach.
Adequate network speed and bandwidth ease your work demands and ensure you have the ability to securely perform tasks, such as video conferencing with patients, without internet outages. While business Internet speeds are generally quite high, some home network speeds are too slow for business purposes and could easily be intercepted by a threat actor.
4. Learn how to avoid social engineering attacks (especially phishing emails).
Phishing is a type of scam whereby hackers try to trick you into sending them your personal information. This is usually done via email, text, or social media. The scammer pretends to represent a trusted source, such as a bank or subscription service, and asks you to confirm account information, click a link, or download an attachment.
When you click on a phishing link or attachment, it will often be linked to malware that will infect your device and compromise your data. Trustworthy companies will likely never ask you directly for personal information in an email, so it’s best to avoid these requests altogether.
Please scan all messages closely and beware of anyone requesting information to share online. Look for red flags such as incorrect grammar, strange sender addresses, and links that look like legitimate business addresses (like amaz.on.com instead of amazon.com).
5. Drop any BYOD policies and opt for company-provided devices.
Bring Your Own Device policies have their benefits, but when running a medical business remotely, it’s important to put safety first for the sake of you and your patients.
Healthcare data is highly valuable to hackers, so it’s smarter to work from company-provided devices that can be securely maintained and managed in accordance with HIPAA regulations rather than personal devices. Company-provided devices can be customized to only allow access to certain sites, prevent unauthorized program downloads, and monitor for any potential security threats.
As your medical practice finds ways to harness technology and help patients more effectively during these challenging times, it’s critical that you stay safe. By implementing these 5 best practices for remote security, your practice will be well-positioned to defend against even the latest remote threats.