Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is a healthcare technology meant to monitor patients in their homes which allows increasing accessibility and quality of care while decreasing its cost. This digital technology often collects medical and other data about patients such as location and vitals, using patient health data (Ph.D.) in combination with electronic health records (EHR) which electronically transmits information to health providers. However, as with any form of digital data technology, it can be accessed without authorization and be misused. Healthcare technologies such as RPM have become a target for cybercriminals in recent years, creating potential risks.
A significant risk of the RPM technology is human users themselves. Since it is software on a device, it must be user-friendly with accessibility and usability potential. This compromises some level of security initially. Furthermore, using social engineering, cybercriminals may utilize the human factor to gain access to the device or patient records. This can be done by deceiving a healthcare provider using a covert channel (Ondiege, Clarke, & Mapp, 2017). Or similarly, misleading an elderly patient to gain access to their data.
Various technical abuses of Ph.D. elements are a potential risk. This includes exploitation of the agent device, software, telemonitoring, and server abuse. Since a Ph.D. requires the use of remote devices and wireless networks, these can be altered or replaced with a compromised agent leading to unauthorized access or manipulation (Ondiege et al., 2017). Cybercriminals can either collect large amounts of user information or engage in criminal behavior such as extortion. The utilization of third-party platforms and the conditions of deploying such technologies on non-secure networks leave numerous vulnerabilities that can be exploited through abuse.
It is also important to remember that like any technology, RPM can experience technical failure or breakdown which also poses security risks. All of the examples listed above may lead to an important risk of simple failure of the purpose that the technology serves in monitoring individuals by either not sending, incorrectly recording, or corrupting data that may endanger the health and treatment of some patients (Ondiege et al., 2017). Overall, it is critical to enhancing security protocols in the utilization of RPM and Ph.D. as remote healthcare technology becomes widespread.
Ondiege, B., Clarke, M., & Mapp, G. (2017). Exploring a New Security Framework for Remote Patient Monitoring Devices. Computers, 6(4), 11. Web.