The progression in technology led to tremendous changes in various critical industries. The health industry did not get left behind. Recent times have seen an increase in remote patient care provision without physically having a patient caregiver. This is popularly known as telemedicine. Physicians leverage technological advances to deliver services and consult patients. These technologies need to comply with the standards set by HIPAA. This approach of patient care has ensured continued medical service delivery even during a pandemic. The tools also increase the accessibility of healthcare besides making it cost-effective. Telemedicine is also celebrated for increasing patient engagements leading to more positive health outcomes. The biggest concern, however, remains whether telemedicine offers protection to patient data.
Telemedicine Maintain Legal conditions for Medical Data
The introduction of telemedicine does not throw caution into the wind. The change in modes of operation in terms of caregiving does not mean that the legal standards of patient data protection change. For this reason, an acceptable telemedicine protocol must include data protection policies to be followed by healthcare givers. Therefore, data protection policy in telemedicine prioritizes the pursuit of the highest standards of medical secrecy with regards to patient data. This gets realized through ensuring that a patient’s right to information and privacy gets upheld. It follows that false data get corrected or updated while the information that is no longer necessary gets deleted. Telemedicine has made strides to ensure patient data protection through setting and meeting data security standards. These standards include confidentiality, integrity, and availability upon request and at any given time.
How Telemedicine Protects Patient Data
Telemedicine ensures patient data protection through several means. First, the system uses electronic signatures to protect against risks associated with open networks. It also puts a lot of emphasis on monitoring data processing. If medical transcribing is required, the providers can choose to manage the process in-house or employ professional services. The cheaper and cost-effective alternative is usually the independent professionals’ approach. This means that individual medical transcribing agencies are also required to ensure the highest standards of patient data privacy. The flexible and customizable medical transcription services for clinics and other healthcare facilities re guided by policies that ensure telemedicine complies with HIPAA requirements. The agency also has HIPAA compliant servers with additional security features for the protection of patient data. These features include detailed reporting and tracking, individual user names, passwords and pins, Virtual Private Network (VPN) integration, and dedicated data centers. Besides, 99% or above overall accuracy is guaranteed from this independent medical transcription firms. Furthermore, any access beyond the specified would require the consent of the patient before proceeding.
Potential Privacy Risks
Despite the measures put in place to ensure patient data protection, there exist several reasons for patients to reduce their trust in telemedicine. This is because current federal laws do not exclusively address all the privacy trepidations in telehealth systems. The primary concern for any patient is the system’s failure to provide limits to the collection, use, or disclosure of sensitive information. A good example is that a sensor placed in a patient’s home or those that interface with it to detect medical issues or act upon an emergency may collect information on the activities within the house. This data may get collected and stored by remote apps under the control of the creators. There exist the risks that manufacturers and monitors may get financed to share the data with potential advertisers and put the entire system at risk. Even though the patients are required to consent for mounting such tech, this leads to overreliance and subsequent weakening of privacy protection laws.
Telemedicine has its advantages, especially during a pandemic when movement is restricted. However, serious security and privacy risks may increase if various aspects of the patient data protection laws and policies are not addressed. Federal governments and states all over the face of the earth have enacted laws designed to protect patients from many of these risks. Therefore, it is safer to imply that telemedicine has done a great deal to ensure patient data safety during its use. This is possible through compliance with HIPAA standards in telemedicine. However, patients are still at risk as a result of inadequate laws and guidelines keeping telemedicine in check