Are your Telemedicine apps secured?
With the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, a sudden surge is seen in the usage of Telemedicine apps. The availability of the easier healthcare option where irrespective of the distance, a patient can get himself treated virtually through an app using video call and other advanced tech features has acted as blessings for the citizens of many countries who are locked in their homes due to “stay at home” orders by the government.
As the numbers in the reports state, the usage of these apps has been doubled among Americans while Canadians are also accepting it with their hands wide open. The predictions are made on the Telemedicine market to elevate its consumption to reach $130.5 billion by 2025.
But as we all know, the more the usage of the app, the more are the chances of a data breach and cybersecurity threats. So as the competition for the best Telemedicine app increases in the market, ensuring a precise check on its security measures needs to be a center point for an app to survive in the market.
In-order to assure yourself that your Telemedicine apps are safe for your customers, below are some factors that need attention in terms of safety followed by some security measures for Telemedicine apps.
Table of Contents
Key Areas In Telemedicine Apps That Need Security
- Audio or video call information: Telemedicine uses video and audio call facilities where the patient shares his concerns. Verification of whether there is no glitch in the connection where a third party could listen to the conversation during the call or once the call gets over is indeed needed.
- Process of data transfer: Medical reports, chats, and patients' personal information are being exchanged between the Telehealth workers while giving the treatment. Ensuring this data is transferred through a secured network under strong encryption is an important aspect to be taken care of in a Telemedicine app. Not to mention, forensics can also be implemented.
- App Database: The next on the list is the Telemedicine database, where a huge amount of patient health records are stored. This data should be stored in a secure structured format and not in a way that reveals the patient's identity and must only be accessible by authorized admins.
- Payment gateways: As Telemedicine apps treat the patients online, the payments to the doctors are also transferred using different payment methods. Securing your app payment gateways by double-layer verification or biometric authentication is essential for your user's safe money transfer.
Moving further, let's look into some must-have security checks for a Telemedicine app.
Security Measures To Keep In Mind While Developing A Telehealth App
1. Ensure endpoint security
Telemedicine apps can be installed and used on different devices like laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. During the online diagnosis process through video calls and chat messages, each of these devices is connected to different networks leaving a chance of data breaching through any of the endpoint devices.
Controlling the amount of data that is being accessed from a device thus becomes important. Introducing and implementing an advanced EDR system in your app development process helps to detect any malicious activities on the devices connected at the endpoints by employing 24/7 monitoring on the nodes. These advanced EDR's are capable of ensuring security in the remotely connected devices by enabling immediate action towards preventing any malware from entering and spreading in the system.
2. HIPAA/PIPEDA Compliance
HIPAA/PIPEDA Compliance is the mandatory and the most basic security check for a Healthcare application to become eligible for public use.
With this compliance ensuring the right use of personal health information of the users, matching the standards defined by the industry experts becomes a must.
Some of these must-know rules of HIPAA compliance are:
- Data security: Only authorized and registered users can access the ePHI, proper security terms have to be defined to safeguard unauthorized parties.
- Strict ePHI communication monitoring devices: In order to avoid any data breaching, HIIPHA asks the app owner to implement such mechanisms to monitor the ePHI communication to prevent an accidental malicious attack.
- Secure channel for communication: Use of Skype, SMS, and emails are highly prohibited to be used as a medium for Telehealth checkup. In order to maintain the integrity of ePHI, implementing a secure communication system becomes important.
Policies, security terms, and procedures like these are the benchmark for a full-fledged app to ensure safe launch in the market.
3. Opt for App insurance for Cybersecurity
As we take an insurance policy for our lives and business, why not for our app security? Well with the options like Cybersecurity insurance for applications that come along with business insurances there is a full money coverage of any mishaps with the digital services.
Opting for the right cybersecurity policy can help stop any possible data breaching attack by providing protective software, and also includes employee training and other IT support.
This policy includes the costs of legal security work, forensics, public relations as well as data monitoring costs of the application. Such insurances are a great step to ensure safety in terms of the app as well as money in times of any cyber attack.
Read Also: How To Prevent Bluetooth Hacking
4. Data Encryption and Network Access Control
As there is a huge amount of patients' sensitive data being transferred through the Telemedicine apps, confirming the safety during data transfer and data storage thus acts as an important aspect.
Use of the technology platforms that use high data encryption models that prevents the unauthorized user to even have an accidental look at your data or a smart hacker to get access to your transferring communication to tweak it. Data transfer through email, Skype, or Facetime is not advisable for use in Telehealth apps.
Well talking about the data transfer, using a virtual private network (VPN) is said to be the most protected communication channel to transfer any sensitive data as here the data is well encrypted and transferred through a secured and appropriate channel. VPN's mitigate the chances of any potential system vulnerabilities.
Apart from that, NAC's are also a great security form that works on micro-segmentation techniques and tracks and monitors devices and their access limit.
5. Self-hosting your telemedicine app
Your app is said to be 100% safe if it doesn't have any dependency on a third party. Relying on the other systems needs delegation of your app data which could one or the other way be the reason for the glitches in data security.
Hosting your app on your own server or storing your data on your purchased cloud space is the easiest way to ensure safety as you are the only one authorized to access the data.
Allowing your users to access telemedicine apps through Google or Facebook increases the external risk of security and privacy hindrance. Moreover opting for a white label solution you will get your own app ready with your branding and suitable customization.
Telemedicine apps are here to stay. The facility to get the treatment sitting in the home has made it more popular with the lockdown announcement.
As the use of these apps is increasing its pace, ensuring the safety of the patient's data is a concern to be taken care of. Implementing the above-mentioned hacks before developing a telemedicine app can be a great way to launch a secure and safe app for your users.
Parth Patel is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of SyS Creations – Managed IT services in Ontario. He has been serving in Canadian healthcare industry for more than 7 years. Along with his team, Parth Patel has earned expertise in customized app development and even developed a virtual healthcare solution for long-term care homes.