Health care providers must balance convenience with security

Every health care provider strives to deliver high-quality results in a timely manner. Increasingly, organizations are turning to mobility, the cloud and other relatively recent technologies in order to improve their response times and make health care more convenient for patients across the board. 

While this is positive trend overall, it carries significant risks for health care providers and patients alike. Most notably, the drive toward greater convenience can put patient data in danger of loss, theft or exposure. This is a problem not just because of HIPAA and other security-related compliance standards – it also runs contrary to patients' attitudes, as a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report highlighted.

Security concerns
The report, released by PwC's Health Research Institute, included a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers. PwC asked patients which was more important: data security or convenient access to personal health care information. In the case of drug prescription information, nearly two-thirds prioritized data security. When it came to medical tests and imaging results, 71 percent prioritized data security. And in the context of doctors' notes and diagnoses, almost three-fourths of respondents cared more about security than convenience. 

These results demonstrate that patients may be more worried about keeping their health-related information safe than many organizations realize. These attitudes can have a major impact on patient behavior, too, as more than half of respondents said their security concerns could potentially prevent them from being fully honest with their doctors. 

Convenience matters
However, this does not mean that patients are indifferent to convenience or information access, as Bryan Kissinger, executive director at Kaiser Permanente, told PwC.

The past five years "have seen an intensification of consumerism, the desire for customers to have access to their data in real-time on their mobile devices," he said, according to the report.

"Health care providers need to improve convenience while taking steps to ensure that patient information remains fully secure at all times."

The key takeaway, then, is that health care providers need to improve convenience while taking steps to ensure that patient information remains fully secure at all times. 

The use of high-quality tools will be essential in this capacity. For example, consider Aptris' ServiceNow system. This productivity tool hosts an entire suite of applications in a single platform, allowing doctors, nurses and other users to maximize their efficiency and ability to engage with patients. At the same time, ServiceNow includes a unique feature that redacts patient data from support cases. This adds a critical layer of patient protection without compromising convenience or performance in any capacity.