AMA: 5 ways physicians can combat cybercrime during the pandemic

Hospitals and health systems will increasingly rely on digital tools to provide care to patients as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in combination with flu season.

The American Medical Association and American Hospital Association launched a new resource to help providers navigate tech considerations and promote proper cybersecurity safeguards throughout the rest of the year, according to a Nov. 10 AMA report.

Five details:

1. While working against the pandemic, physician practices and hospitals have also had to increasingly fight cybercrime on three fronts: a sharp rise in phishing campaigns; targeted attacks on vulnerable links between patients and physicians; and ransomware attacks that disrupt patient care and disable computer systems.

2. When it comes to improving interconnectivity, physicians and other providers must address network components that create vulnerabilities, such as personal mobile devices and home computers with out-of-date firewall tech.

3. Physicians should ensure that no legacy devices still use Windows 7 as their operating systems because support for the software expired early this year, which means no more security updates will be released.

4. To safeguard protected health information, it's important to correct situations when PHI is sent via unencrypted emails or knowingly or unknowingly stored in medical devices or office equipment.

5. While HHS relaxed HIPAA privacy and security violations for physicians and hospitals adopting telehealth tech to connect with their patients at the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the discretionary period will likely close at the end of the declared emergency. Physicians must start planning for this and how they will attain HIPAA compliance if they have not already.

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