What are the Risks of having your Medical Information Online?
The issue of protecting medical information at all times was considered, mainly, as protection against leakage of some information about the patient’s health, with special attention paid to medical secrecy – a phenomenon that, in essence, is more social than medical.
Today, when medicine, along with many other industries, goes online, when information from the healthcare field is digitized and, accordingly, processed, when personal data of users is collected, stored and processed on the websites of hundreds of medical services, the issue of information protection in medicine is moving into legal plane.
New opportunities and new risks
The development of information technologies gives medicine such opportunities that it was even impossible to dream of before – searching for:
- online consultations;
- online consultations;
- aggregators of medical services;
- online assistance during operations;
- medical hardware;
- the ability to provide medical reports and certificates online mode, etc.
In parallel with this, a new risk appears in online medicine – the risk of information security and personal data protection. Developers of services and applications, guided by the requirements of the Personal Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), should not only include data confidentiality in their project at the earliest stage of development, but also anticipate possible hacker actions aimed at obtaining personal data of users of sites.
The medical data system (and so it was even before the introduction of information technologies in the field of medicine) has always been a complex multi-level system:
- providers of primary and secondary medical services;
- medical business associations;
- a medical information system outside medical institutions (schools, kindergartens, medical centers);
- pharmaceutical organizations;
- medicine management;
- private and public clinics;
- specialized and family (district) doctors.
Each element of this system collects and stores data related to the health of patients. The transition to online increases the risks of hacker attacks with the subsequent dissemination of personal information of the medical plan.
Medicine and data protection
As already mentioned, the field of medicine and health care is an area where the safety of information is one of the fundamental characteristics. With the advent of the Internet, the patient-user has the opportunity to receive medical care remotely. Accordingly, the data on his state of health, before arriving at the destination, passes through several “channels” thanks to medical web design company.
A modern patient today can not only make an appointment with a doctor online. He can have access to the results of his examination, he can get his diagnosis “on hand”, he can pick up, order and receive the necessary medications, in his “mailbox” there can be information or correspondence that contains facts or information about his health.
With the development of technology, including the way to outsource web design, a number of mobile devices have appeared that can be called “personal”, personal – such devices register various parameters of the health of the owner of such a device, regardless of whether such an owner is a patient in the conventional sense.
Medical personal devices are striking in their diversity: these are various biorecorders, trackers and other gadgets, which, rather, relate to the Internet of Things in medicine. These devices also collect, store and process personal information of users, therefore, the user must be sure that his data is reliably protected.
In addition to devices, clinics and search engines, so-called aggregators of services are entering the online medicine scene, which provide the user with the opportunity to find and choose a whole range of services: from a list of international clinics to a specialized doctor.
As a rule, when searching for or choosing a clinic or service, the user does not think about the protection of his personal data. Logically, the protection of personal data should not be the concern of the patient.
Brantlee Bhide is a project manager at HB Consultancy. She has 16 years of experience working as a project professional across varying industries, countries, and cultures. She operates in both business and technical domains using an approach that she developed.