Technology has completely changed the practice of modern medicine. From telehealth to electronic patient/health records, innovation is abundant in clinical medicine. However, as with any form of technology and the movement of information on virtual and cloud systems, there are vulnerabilities.
This is an important aspect to consider as more healthcare players are increasingly integrating technology into their daily healthcare offerings. Late last month, Universal Health Services, one of the largest providers of healthcare, announced that it “experienced an information technology security incident” causing the company to suspend “user access to its information technology applications related to operations located in the United States.”
As of last week, the company announced progress in restoring its systems: “Universal Health Services (UHS) confirms that the UHS IT Network has been restored at Corporate and across all Acute Care hospitals, enabling connections to all major systems and applications, including the Electronic Medical Record (EMR), laboratory and pharmacy. With back-loading of data substantially complete at this point, hospitals are resuming normal operations. The wide area networks at the majority of our Behavioral Health facilities are back online as well, with the remaining to follow shortly.”
Two staff members wheel Amwell telemedicine carts into the entrance of the University of California ... [+] San Francisco (UCSF) Benioff Children's Hospital in Mission Bay, San Francisco, California. As a result of the outbreak, patients are increasingly being asked to conduct telemedicine appointments to avoid infecting healthcare workers. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)Gado via Getty Images
However, this is not a new problem. Healthcare systems have been grappling with security issues for many years, as more systems are increasingly adopting new forms of technology.
Healthcare cybersecurity is critical, given the expansive amount of personal and sensitive information that is often contained in patient health records. The cybersecurity industry is understanding this immediate need, and has rapidly grown to address these issues. However, cybersecurity is a constant race. With how quickly technology changes, vulnerabilities also change. Thus, companies that are aiming to fight these problems must remain agile, and continuously study and expand their security offerings.
Indeed, technology has changed the face of healthcare. However, with the rapidly growing dependence on healthcare technology and virtual platforms, cybersecurity threats will only continue to increase. Therefore, as more healthcare systems embrace the use of technology in clinical medicine, healthcare providers, government bodies, and regulatory experts must ensure that all aspects of patient safety, data protection, and privacy, are the highest priority.