A recent study called “360° Health Barometer” by the firm Odoxa highlighted people’s enthusiasm in France for the use of technology in healthcare and the development of eHealth. But, although public opinion is ready, this is not necessarily the case with IT systems. Ensuring the security of healthcare data remains the biggest challenge in moving over to eHealth.
Healthcare data security: considerable effort needed
Professional who process and store healthcare data are subject to particularly stringent security standards. Authorisation is obtained by complying with a particularly demanding set of rules.
The French association of data security professionals, Clusif, highlights the significant progress made in recent years in the security of IT systems used by healthcare players. In 2014, only 50% of healthcare facilities had put in place a security policy for their IT systems. Today, 92% have done so.
Such a policy is indispensable because the main risk lies in the fact that a multitude of healthcare players – doctors, hospitals and clinics – with varying levels of security are linked together in a network. A weak link puts the whole network at risk. Shared data can be hacked and used for commercial purposes or quite simply divulged through human error. GDPR and heightened awareness has tended to increase the level of protection without bringing any greater guarantee of inviolability.
Connected medicine brings another layer of risk
Of course, the more data circulates, the higher the risk. Connected devices have met with great enthusiasm in France, where three in four people would welcome the development of such solutions for monitoring after release from hospital or in cases of chronic illness. This presupposes a transfer of medical data collected up into the Cloud…bringing the new challenge of processing and securing such a mass of data.
Indeed, such data is sensitive above all because it threatens people’s private life. Nevertheless, it is not certain that hackers and fraudsters could obtain financial benefit. In reality, e-commerce sites and the social media are much more attractive prey. Furthermore, three in four people in France are conscious of the risk of hacking and theft of their data. Even more so after the Cambridge Analytica scandal or the recent hacking of Facebook and Google+ accounts. Only 52% now have confidence in the institutions to ensure protection of their data compared to 67% in October 2017. All this is good news, since prudence, even mistrust are the best defences against hacking. On an even more optimistic note, we could see these figures as a sign of maturity and wisdom: more and more people in France are conscious of the risks, yet despite that they vote heavily in favour of eHealth!