As Use of Telehealth Contact Centers Grows, Privacy must be Ensured
By: Mohie Ahmed
When the COVID-10 pandemic began, no industry in the world was put under more stress than the medical industry. The use of telehealth services became more common as the pandemic raged on, due to its potential to control costs, while providing real-time tools to promote wellness, prevent disease, and enable the home management of chronic conditions. During the first quarter of 2020 alone, the use of telehealth visits increased 50 percent compared to all of 2019.
While the use of contact centers made handling the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic more manageable, hospitals also started to find that the use of contact centers in the healthcare industry had more benefits. Running a call center in a virtual server environment, or in the cloud, is giving hospitals the ability to stay flexible and available by using remote operators. Hospital call centers are leveraging their communication software, often in new ways, to provide their communities and staff with accurate information and quick responses.
Hospital call center and healthcare professionals have already shown agility in adapting communications software in new ways to improve telemedicine applications while enhancing patient care. Advances in technology and our ability to use it could soon make the use of telehealth a standard healthcare practice.
While the use of contact centers in the healthcare industry seems to be an essential part of the future of telehealth, there is still one area of concern when it comes to using contact centers, that being privacy. The use of telehealth contact centers frequently involves bidirectional, digital collection and communication of sensitive health information among healthcare providers and patients. This leads to a whole myriad of relevant threats, including breach of confidentiality during collection of sensitive data or during transmission to the provider’s system; unauthorized access to the functionality of supporting devices as well as to data stored on them; and untrusted distribution of software and hardware to the patient.
As contact centers continue to provide valuable services to the healthcare industry, they may just find themselves here to stay. With expanded access and improved reimbursement policies in place, as well as ongoing acceptability by patients and health care providers, telehealth might continue to serve as an important modality for delivering care.
Securing healthcare contact center engagements has never been more important. Ensuring HIPAA compliance for call centers can be accomplished by only allowing authorized users to access the call center´s private communications network. Once secure access to the network is achieved, authorized users can then communicate with other authorized users, share documents, files and images as attachments, and engage in secure group discussions when a scenario arises that would benefit from collaboration. Only when we can fully secure interactions can we fully optimize the value of online interactions between providers and patients.
With new software-based approaches and cybersecurity automation, organizations can protect themselves from one of the primary causes of breaches – adversaries taking control of privileged accounts by being able to “crack the code” on privileged users’ passwords.
It is one thing when enterprises use automation, including AI, to improve the efficiency of their ERP, HR, accounting, and other systems, and of course, any enterprise system which collects, stores, and uses data should be fully protected, including a solid Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution as a core part of their IT architecture.
Privileged users inside organizations have access to that company’s most valuable assets. As we have learned from countless exploitations, advanced adversaries target privileged accounts, which is why leading analysts agree: Privileged Access Management (PAM) is not a “nice-to-have” – it is a “must-have.”