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Indian healthcare providers spot information security and privacy as a matter of concern

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Friday, June 24, 2022, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Indian healthcare providers see information security and privacy as a matter of concern. Covid-19 has disrupted multiple industries globally and the healthcare too has taken a toll. While healthcare providers have been working tirelessly, the sector is in a spot with the information security and privacy issues. 

Mithun Majumdar, co-founder, 750ad Healthcare, stated that rapid changes in the healthcare industry is evolving where every single step will be synced to the digital technology to improve patient care services but still this poses a cyber risk.

Over the course of a patient's treatment, a medical record gathers major personal information. With a pool of confidential health information, the ability of the industry to protect patient privacy is paramount. Nevertheless, maintaining patient records of thousands of patients daily, has become a tedious task, he added.

However, it is a healthcare professional's responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of their patient’s information, as multiple security breaches like selling them online on the dark web or to a third party to track their financial details exists, Majumdar noted.

Outlining several important data privacy steps needed to build a secure healthcare system, he said that de-identification of data, empowering teams about cyber security, vendor analysis, security safeguards, access controls and enhanced compliance monitoring are necessary.

According to Majumdar, it is important for healthcare providers to understand whether the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or other state laws apply to their data. It may be feasible to avoid these regulations by de-identifying the data before uploading it to an AI (artificial intelligence) database.

The increased complexity of AI systems has made it easier to create data linkages, and by adding more data to the systems the potential to create identifiable data also increases. There is a risk that AI systems will generate identifiable patient data where previously it was de-identified as the number of patient data elements increase.

For the healthcare industry, data masking is crucial for protecting sensitive information by protecting the unidentifiable values. The de-identification method must be followed since the actual value cannot be determined like name date of birth, and zip codes. Therefore, data masking has become one of the most commonly used methods of anonymizing live data, he said.

Also it is imperative that healthcare providers become more aware of cyber security in order to create a safe and secure space for patient data. Further, before entrusting any third party with patient information, there is need to perform adequate vendor due diligence, as failure to maintain proper security can lead to legal and monetary consequences, he said.

Adequate security safeguards must be adopted to maintain privacy as well as trust in the technology. The healthcare providers and AI product companies should also monitor who will access the data, algorithms and ensure strict controls to the levels of access. Audits and monitoring of data and information systems should be carried out regularly to detect any data compromises.

There is a pressing need for all new patient data privacy, transparency, and control standards to be adhered to as we enter a new era of healthcare technology. To avoid cyber threats and guarantee optimum data privacy and security, healthcare IT solutions must conform to all regulations and standards. AI technologies have the potential to revolutionize healthcare. But unless patients, and physicians trust that these AI-based products will manage data in a secure and private manner, they may end up being short-lived, said Majumdar.


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