By: Brandon Baker

Image result for digital doctors

Technology is everywhere. It has invaded every aspect as our lives for better or for worse. Technology allows us to be in constant contact with one another, no matter how far away the other is. It helps to forecast trends and allows more people to be heard, from more places. Unfortunately, technology also has made us, as a society, extremely reliant upon it for our every need. Instead of driving to the grocery store, we can access an app that will get our groceries for us and deliver them to our door. We can spend countless hours seeing what everyone else on the earth is up to, without ever living a life of our own.

One aspect of technology which has a positive impact on society is telemedicine. Telemedicine is defined as “a method of providing clinical healthcare to someone from a distance by the use of telecommunication and information technology”. [1] Telemedicine, just like technology as a whole, is doing its part to shorten the distance between physicians and patients in rural areas. [2] Additionally, telemedicine can operate in conjunction with data analytical software, ensuring that the patient is receiving the best care possible. [3] Telemedicine truly has the ability to give citizens across the country access to world class medical care, without even having to leave their house. This is a massive breakthrough in rural health care and eliminates the burden that traveling to far away hospitals and clinics puts on the patient. Furthermore, telemedicine can play a major role in the treatment of patients who may not be totally mobile. Telemedicine allows them to skip the hassle and financial burden involved with getting medical transport to take them in for treatment. Telemedicine continues to break down barriers, allowing more and more people the chance to have first-class medical care, no matter where you might be.

While telemedicine has many benefits that have helped and will continue to help many patients across the country, there is an issue of whether that data that is shared electronically is secure and safe? Physicians need to make sure that the data in which they receive by way of the patient is secure pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), if it is applicable. [4] The great progress that telemedicine has achieved in recent years and the vast benefits of its services could all be at risk if a widespread data hack targeted these providers and stole sensitive information. Due to this concern, telemedicine providers are advised to conduct more frequent tests that examine the vulnerability of their IT systems. [5]

In conclusion, while telemedicine has been praised for its ability to connect individuals from around the country with top-notch medical care, it has not been without its risks or concerns. For telemedicine to continue to grow and allow its benefits to reach every single corner of the country, telemedicine providers need to be wary of the security and privacy risks that are present and how to effectively mitigate them.

[1]See What Are The Latest Trends in Telemedicine in 2018?, Forbes (July 31, 2018), https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/07/31/what-are-the-latest-trends-in-telemedicine-in-2018/#798893a06b9e

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] See Joseph L. Hall et al, For Telehealth to Succeed, Privacy and Security Risks must be Identified and Addressed, Health Affairs (Feb. 2014), https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0997

[5] Supra note 1.

image source: https://www.chmbinc.com/digital-doctor-visits/

css.php