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Safeguarding patient data from prowling hackers – Business Daily

The healthcare industry has emerged as one of the biggest targets for cybercriminals, discouraging the uptake of emerging technologies.
In Kenya where telemedicine -where patients access doctors through online platforms or mobile apps – has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, patients face the risk of having their data stolen.
Caroline Wafula is one such patient who now prefers visiting a doctor to using digital health services.
“I don’t feel safe using telehealth. I fear my data can be leaked. There are some ailments that I would rather talk to my doctor one-on-one rather than have a video call or use an app,” she says.
And she is not the only one exercising caution. Globally, nearly nine out of 10 healthcare organisations on Meta switched to telehealth during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, out of the firms that use telehealth in the Meta survey, 63 percent reported they had experienced cases where patients refused services due to security concerns.
Qaizer Manji, the HealthX Africa CEO, a telehealth company that set up shop in Kenya last year says investing in sophisticated data protection software is a must as the industry grows. One must also have trained personnel who handle patient data.
At HealthX Africa, they have medical reading trackers and software that enable them to personalise health messaging and notifications.
With a special patient tag, the software, and medical reading trackers help doctors to record such patient data as drugs prescription, scheduled appointments or tests, and allergies.
Mr Manji says there is also a need to educate healthcare staff on how to recognise and deal with basic cybersecurity threats. He adds that they should also be trained on how to protect their networks, endpoints, and all devices used to access cloud storage.
Telemedicine has gained pace enabling patients to access services 24/7, without enduring the burden of travelling to a physical hospital.
Research done by Kaspersky, a cybersecurity and anti-virus provider, shows that it will be difficult for patients to embrace digital-driven healthcare services if their medical data is at risk.
Since 2017, the healthcare industry has been the most targeted by cybercriminals with a sharp increase in attacks experienced in 2020.
Kaspersky urges such businesses to upgrade IT resources, including cybersecurity software to protect the patients’ medical data.
“For healthcare, cyberattacks can have ramifications beyond financial and reputation losses and breach of privacy as the loss of patient data can put lives at risk,” says the lead security researcher at Kaspersky, Sergey Lozhkin.
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