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How Telehealth is Changing Medicine and Healthcare Insurance; Why Securing Data is More Critical than Ever

According to FH Health Indicators, a white paper published by the nonprofit FAIR health, private insurance claim lines for services rendered via telehealth, as a percentage of all medical claims, grew 53 percent in the US between 2016 and 2017, more than any other venue of care.

This semi-annual research report focuses on alternative places of service, including emergency rooms, fast-growing retail clinics, urgent care centers, and ambulatory surgery centers along with telehealth as a “channel” evaluating changes in utilization, geographic and demographic factors, diagnoses, procedures, and costs.

Telehealth harnesses technology to provide remote care via video conferencing and other means. It is proving to be more and more effective and is very popular in rural areas in the US that lack brick-and-mortar care options. Telehealth is also becoming very popular for elderly patients who often find it useful since it eliminates the need for transportation.

As the Internet of Medical Things matures, telehealth systems are bringing together connected devices that monitor vital signs and can even remotely control insulin and heart pumps. In the future, we will continue to see more blending of humans and machines to deliver care more efficiently and affordably.

With all this growth, more attention is being placed on the security of telehealth and telemedicine systems, services, applications, and networks, as more and more data is being collected, stored, analyzed and shared with various applications through APIs. Healthcare data security has long been a big goal of healthcare service providers and insurance companies, given the vast amount of personal information (including social security numbers, credit cards, banking information) and now personal health information and critical health devices.

Regulators continue to adapt and toughen laws associated with Personally Identifiable Information and Personal Health Information, with longstanding regulations for HIPAA compliance and PCI in place. Processing digital health data plays an increasingly important role in our healthcare industry, driving an even higher risk of cyber threats.

Cyberattacks have brought down entire healthcare system networks, most often associated with medical centers and hospitals. Health service providers are investing millions of dollars in preventing life-threatening attacks to avoid having to pay even more in ransom, in fines, and reputational damage.

When care is being delivered outside the walls of secure clinics and hospitals, the cybersecurity challenges become even more complicated. For example, while storing and processing data in the cloud, and sharing data between clouds, without comprehensive IP network cybersecurity measures in place, data at rest, data in use, and data in motion is subject to theft and exploitation.

We envision a time when the majority of health-related visits take place virtually, and that new Business Process Outsourcing style services will grow. These services will use the latest capabilities in contact center technology, including expert routing so that a patient can be connected immediately to the right professional. Rather than an “agent” responding to an inbound call, it is a healthcare “navigator.” This navigator likely works for a healthcare insurance company and has the platform to engage in a secure, personalized conversation with the patient.

This health navigator will have the patient’s records, information about their coverage, information about their doctors and specialists, and information about the availability of an expert. Depending on the circumstance, the expert could immediately start conversing by video with the patient for a diagnosis and even treatment.

Experiencing instant, accredited, quality support on the spot is an excellent advancement for people of all ages, from young parents with their first infant, to older adults who wish to live at home instead of in a nursing facility. Specialized equipment, including heart monitors, blood pressure cuffs, insulin pumps, and more, can be “prescribed” to patients then secured by the healthcare providers. It brings together devices that cannot be hacked with networks that secure every conversation and the related data associated with the conversation.

Cybersecurity becomes mission-critical and established in all layers, whether applications and access, authentication and verification, or as part of the DNA of the network itself.

The Dispersive™ Virtual Network uses multipath technology to dynamically split session-level IP traffic at the edge or device into smaller packets, allowing for greater security for patient data as it transits the Internet.

Using advanced algorithms, the Dispersive™ Virtual Network delivers packets to applications, enhancing the quality of voice and video for better, faster, less frustrating communications, and helps protect patient safety by thwarting medical device hacks with a call-out-only approach that limits inbound connections.

To learn about these features and more, which contribute to a trusted telehealth and telemedicine industry, please contact me.

– Chris Swan