Remote work used to be viewed as a luxury, now it is viewed as a necessity for many in the workforce. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many in-office employees to retreat to their homes to continue their work while helping fight the spread of the virus. Companies had to quickly adjust their workflows, communication, resources, and security measures. By doing this on the fly, many businesses did not have the appropriate infrastructure in place to bridge the immediate gap from office to home. This has led to inefficiencies and security risks.
As the pandemic continues, many businesses have gone permanently remote, while others are choosing a hybrid approach with part-time at-home work. According to a study done by Global Workplace Analytics, it is estimated that by the end of 2021, 25 to 30 percent of the workforce will be working remotely multiple days a week. In that same research, the group believes that 56 percent of the workforce has a job that is compatible with remote work -- for at least part of the time. Jobs were qualified if they met this criterion:
• Had an information component
• Included individual vs. group work
• Had clear parameters for evaluation
• Did not require personal contact with customers
• Did not require physical work that could only be done on-site
Two of the biggest job categories that fall into this classification include administrative support and professional specialty. That makes up a large portion of the healthcare industry through clinical support staff and patient-attending physicians. During this pandemic, many healthcare institutions and clinics have reduced their in-office numbers and allowed some employees to work remotely if possible. This has included many administrative team members who primarily handle patient communication and related needs.
While this transition to remote work has been necessary in many cases, it has also created new opportunities for cybersecurity concerns and breaches. The healthcare industry is often a popular target for cybercriminals with ransomware attacks being the top threat. Therefore, with considerable financial loss at stake, and the possible leaking of protected patient information, it is critical for the healthcare industry to ensure all possible digital vulnerabilities are secured -- this includes remote working.
With remote work, employees may be unintentionally exposing their hospital, clinic, or office to serious security threats. Therefore, healthcare employees working from home need to be aware of the risks and potential pitfalls -- and how to avoid them.
Five of the most common threats that face remote employees includes:
• Phishing scams
• Weak passwords
• Unencrypted file sharing
• Personal device usage
• Unsecure wifi networks
Phishing scams are a popular way cybercriminals try to gain access to a network. Healthcare administrators and physicians receive countless emails throughout the day. One wrong click of an email link or response can compromise network security. Employees need to be adequate and routinely trained to identify the signs of a potential phishing scam to avoid harm.
Password protection is one of the best and most proactive measures individuals can take to safeguard their accounts. Using unique, and uncommon passwords help decrease the chance of hackers being able to crack the code and enter your profile, ultimately gaining access to sensitive information. Additionally, employees should avoid sharing passwords with each other to reduce the risk of password exposure.
When sensitive information is being shared, it can be digitally intercepted by cybercriminals for use. Healthcare institutions and their employees need to be sure data encryption is happening during transit. That means file-sharing platforms need to be used that provide this functionality, as well as when emailing and performing phone calls.
The use of personal devices is a common occurrence in many healthcare settings. However, these devices lack proper security safeguards that prevent possible data breaching. The use of popular messaging apps like iMessage or Google Messages can lead to serious issues. Professional-only devices are recommended for remote workers, however, if not available, a secure company network is necessary to hold all information.
Wifi networks can be a point of entry for cybercriminals if they lack proper protocols. A common risk that fails to be addressed in-home networks are updates to the home router software. Routers that aren't updated won't have security gaps patched, which can lead to data breaches over time. Additionally, companies typically have firewalls in their office to monitor network traffic and block malicious activity, many people do not have a suitable firewall to guard their home's network.
QliqSOFT is the industry leader in secure digital solutions for healthcare providers. With various engaging tools and well-tested security architecture, QliqSOFT has developed multiple platforms that the healthcare industry can leverage to be more productive, collaborative, and safe. With remote work on the rise, healthcare institutions need to be aware of their digital presence, making sure no loose ends exist.
When employees, whether administrative or physician, go outside the more controlled office setting, cybersecurity risks increase. Whether it be patient communication, internal messaging, or any other routine task, risk is involved with a remote workforce. However, our tools keep remote work safe and healthcare institutions in the clear by erasing the many threats that are attached to at-home work settings.
QlipSOFT’s platform provides organization employees and healthcare providers a secure, user-friendly application that goes beyond HIPAA complaint minimum standards. In doing so, we have developed a software program that is designed to improve your security practices while also enhancing your group’s communication habits and efficiency. Our technology is true end-to-end 2048 bit data encryption, with data being encrypted/decrypted on the device, and nothing is stored in the cloud. Additionally, institutions retain 100 percent control over their data.
With features like the ability to securely sign documents and send images, as well as communicate directly with patients, our platform provides a safe environment without the lack of functionality. This platform gives both administrative staff and physicians all the necessary tools to operate and fulfill their day-to-day duties and needs, such as on-call scheduling and virtual visits. Our secure platform is also able to be used under a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, eliminating the network risks associated with personal devices.
Healthcare chatbots are a great investment toward secure patient communication and request fulfillment. This digital solution also alleviates the workload on administrative staff for tasks like billing and scheduling. With a secure chatbot like Quincy, from QliqSOFT, institutions eliminate some of the communication opportunities that open the door to cybersecurity attacks.
With Quincy, there is:
• Immediate customer attention
• Symptom checking ability
• Appointment scheduling & reminders
• Simple billing & payment
Secure communication is at the core of everything we do here at QliqSOFT. Our secure messaging platform, along with our chatbot, Quincy, and other digital solutions, combines artificial intelligence and live-agent interaction to provide modern healthcare answers for both in-office and remote employees. If your organization is looking to take a leap into the future of clinical care, all while remaining secure, contact us today.
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Prior to the pandemic, telehealth visits ─ delivering patient-provider visits virtually ─ was an afterthought in the care continuum — ill-regarded and little-used beyond patients in rural areas who had few care choices. Virtual visits comprised less than 1% of all outpatient visits. Private insurers generally follow guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which allowed telehealth in only limited circumstances and paid at 30% below in-office reimbursement rates.