Healthcare Technology in 2021: Cybersecurity and Patient Privacy Post-COVID

Judy Barkal
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I recently wrote an article for Physicians Practice on likely technology-related developments in the healthcare sector this year. Naturally, many of my observations are tied to the pandemic’s continuing impact on society, healthcare, and the IT systems designed to serve both.

At Health2047, we work to enable healthcare data utility, scale prevention, augment physician productivity, and pioneer payment evolution. And we’re hyperaware of information technology’s pivotal and ever-evolving role in our mission.

This is a complex, multi-faceted, and fast-moving space. There has already been plenty of pertinent development surrounding several of the topics I touched upon in my 2021 health IT predictions article, including practical advice on protections for data security and patient privacy for practicing physicians in these extraordinary times.

AMA Resources

The American Medical Association (AMA) has been working to help physicians and others manage recent shifts in technology use, and bolster the healthcare community’s security and patient privacy efforts. In conjunction with the American Hospital Association (AHA), the AMA developed the recent “Looking Forward” resource, which notes:

“Privacy and security are distinct, but closely interrelated…It is not enough for medical practices and hospitals to invest in one but not the other. Fortunately, the concepts are mutually reinforcing, meaning that many actions that are taken to bolster security of patient information will also better protect the privacy of that information.”


The AMA resource specifically notes that:

“At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a dramatic increase in phishing email campaigns directed toward the healthcare sector. These emails are cloaked under the guise of important information related to COVID-19…Remote Virtual Private Networks (VPN), and other cloud telehealth services have quickly expanded to support telework, telehealth, and for remote monitoring of medical devices. However, this expansion also dramatically increased the ‘attack surface’ for cyber adversaries who quickly adapted and began probing hospital and physician office networks.”

To address potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities, there is a helpful list of questions that medical practices and hospitals can ask of their health information technology vendors and/or security professionals, along with requests for routine updates to keep technology up to date.

The Future

As we move into a future free from the health threats posed by the pandemic, we must always be cognizant of how the technology we innovate and employ impacts the delivery of the exemplary healthcare we’ve all come to expect.

Healthcare technology issues impact Health2047’s mission — and the healthcare sector as a whole — and will continue to do so in 2021 and beyond. As we continue to foster innovation to master the most pressing issues facing the nation in modernizing medicine and its delivery in the new decade, we’ll also strive to collaborate with our valued partners in both the physician and technology communities to ensure those solutions are up to the task.

To read more about what might lie on the immediate horizon, the full text of my predictions for Physicians Practice are available in Health IT Predictions for 2021: What awaits post-pandemic.

— Judy Barkal is Managing Director at Health2047.

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