Privacy and security concerns related to patient data in the cloud

The Cloud Security Alliance has released a report examining privacy and security of patient data in the cloud.

patient data cloud

In the wake of COVID-19, health delivery organizations (HDOs) have quickly increased their utilization of telehealth capabilities (i.e., remote patient monitoring (RPM) and telemedicine) to treat patients in their homes. These technology solutions allow for the delivery of patient treatment, comply with COVID-19 mitigation best practices, and reduce the risk of exposure for healthcare providers.

Remote healthcare comes with security challenges

Going forward, telehealth solutions — which introduce high levels of patient data over the internet and in the cloud — can be used to remotely monitor and treat patients who have mild cases of the virus, as well as other health issues. However, this remote environment also comes with an array of privacy and security challenges.

“For health care systems, telehealth has emerged as a critical technology for safe and efficient communications between healthcare providers and patients, and accordingly, it’s vital to review the end-to-end architecture of a telehealth delivery system,” said Dr. Jim Angle, co-chair of CSA’s Health Information Management Working Group.

“A full analysis can help determine whether privacy and security vulnerabilities exist, what security controls are required for proper cybersecurity of the telehealth ecosystem, and if patient privacy protections are adequate.”

The HDO must understand regulations and technologies

With the increased use of telehealth in the cloud, HDOs must adequately and proactively address data, privacy, and security issues. The HDO cannot leave this up to the cloud service provider, as it is a shared responsibility. The HDO must understand regulatory requirements, as well as the technologies that support the system.

Regulatory mandates may span multiple jurisdictions, and requirements may include both the GDPR and HIPAA. Armed with the right information, the HDO can implement and maintain a secure and robust telehealth program.

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Privacy and security concerns related to patient data in the cloud