Digital Health Services Face Security Issues

By Bruemmer, Michael | Risk Management, June 2014 | Go to article overview

Digital Health Services Face Security Issues


Bruemmer, Michael, Risk Management


As mobile and online health care services continue to grow in popularity, consumer engagement with the health care industry has gotten stronger. Thanks to these advances, consumers are now able to engage more efficiently with their health care providers and, in turn, health care providers can offer realtime monitoring and timely feedback.

But while these technologies have various benefits, they are also accompanied by many risks and vulnerabilities that can have a negative effect on a company's relationship with its customers. In fact, according to a study by the Ponemon Institute and Experian Data Breach Resolution, 56% of individuals surveyed are "either very concerned or concerned about the theft of their health-related personal information or insurance credentials." The risk of exposing information from health symptoms to personally identifiable information (PII) or protected health information (PHI) has made many consumers reluctant to use online health services.

Overall, the study found that 58% of consumers consider accessing medical records online to be more risky than other web-based activities, such as shopping, social media or email. Consumers have a strong fear of medical identity theft, likely because the consequences can seem much more insidious than payment fraud and, in some cases, may be life-threatening for the victim.

Data security is critical to user engagement and retention. More than 80% of respondents said they would likely terminate their relationship with a mobile health application or online health resource if their information was breached. In fact, nearly 69% of those surveyed considered security more important than the privacy of their information (selling or sharing data with third parties) and anonymity (ability to be completely anonymous when using the online service or resource). …

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