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Chrissa McFarlane, Patientory: “healthcare providers are held to a higher standard than other organizations regarding protecting web data”

Healthcare providers store large amounts of sensitive patient data, thus being required to follow proper cybersecurity practices. But why is it not always the case?

Medical data can tell a threat actor a lot about us due to its highly sensitive nature. At the same time, it’s one of the most behindhand sectors in cybersecurity. Nevertheless, we witness how our medical results are being stored online each time we have our doctor’s appointment.

Even though we are already used to seeing our health cases stored on the application, we rarely bother to find out how well protected the system is. Therefore, the Cybernews investigators went on a mission to learn more about dApp for health with the help of Patientory and its CEO Chrissa McFarlane.

How did Patientory originate? What has your journey been like?

I am an entrepreneur who is dedicated to improving the state of health in our society. My background is in Healthcare IT and Management and has been in the healthcare industry since starting out doing microbiology research in high school. After seeing the impact the healthcare industry has on individuals, I made it my life’s mission to positively impact the lives of others by helping them live healthier and lead a satisfactory lifestyle.

After working for a telemedicine company, I was continually confronted with the difficulty of obtaining patient data from a variety of sources. This was when I decided to launch Patientory to address this challenge. After more than a decade in the healthcare IT industry, I started Patientory in 2015 after recognizing a need for more personalized, secure, and consumer-driven health information management solutions.

Can you tell us more about your app? What are its key features?

Patientory has two solutions: a platform for enterprises and an app for consumers. Our enterprise and consumer products utilize the blockchain network to grant individuals with their health data and enterprises a secure platform for risk and predictive modeling for population health management.

The Patientory mobile app – Patientory – offers a mobile, blockchain-powered, decentralized application designed to facilitate patients and its users with convenient and secure access to their health information. The mobile dApp compiles patients’ hospital records, lab results, a wearable device, and genomic data, among other personal health data across multiple care teams and facilities, creating a unified and comprehensive wellness profile of the patient’s entire history.

Enterprise software tool – Neith – is a disease agnostic, HIPAA-compliant, big data analytics platform, providing health management solutions for enterprise customers. Neith integrates seamlessly with the consumer-facing mobile dApp Patientory to help integrate lifestyle data into care plans, streamline value-based care initiatives and provide risk-mitigating analytics for enterprises and their patients.

In your opinion, what are the security best practices all healthcare companies should follow?

Whether it is healthcare organizations or any other sector, it is always crucial to follow security best practices. However, healthcare providers are held to a higher standard than other organizations regarding protecting web data and delivering a secure experience. For healthcare organizations, decreasing risks while protecting patients’ data and the brand must be a top priority. Healthcare companies should ensure that their security and hosting environments are meeting required protection standards. The following are some of the methods to maintain the privacy and security of a company:

  • Healthcare organizations must follow HIPAA guidelines
  • Protect administrative accounts
  • Updating the software and staying up to date
  • Assigning specialists with excellent technical skills to take responsibility for the practice’s security
  • Ongoing education and training for healthcare providers
  • Regular evaluation and auditing of policy and procedures of an organization

What are threat actors usually trying to gain by taking advantage of one’s health data?

I believe threat actors leverage stolen data to accomplish a variety of goals. Most of the time, they are motivated by financial gain, and they care about making more money using people’s data, financial records, and other credentials. Health data includes the records of very valuable and sensitive information of an individual, and there are many ways to use that data on the dark web. It has all the information a criminal needs for a string of illegal activities such as insurance fraud, identity theft, and tax fraud.

Talking about personal cybersecurity, what tools are essential nowadays, especially for mobile devices?

These days nearly everyone has a mobile device. Our device contains a great deal of personal information about us. Many applications on our phones provide access to our bank accounts or other accounts that contain our personal and sensitive information. So, it has been crucial for us to make sure that our information is safe and secure. For that, we can use some techniques and tools to make our device secure.

  • Use of strong pins or passwords and enabling fingerprint logins to our device
  • Use of more than one authentication factor
  • Use of security applications
  • Be selective while downloading apps and don’t click on any suspicious links
  • Updating the software time-to-time
  • Encrypt your device

Since the health sector is your main field of focus, how do you think is this industry going to evolve in the upcoming years?

Historically, healthcare has been slow to adopt new technology. However, as we look ahead, the healthcare sector will undoubtedly continue to evolve, and the current structure may undergo significant changes in the coming years. Healthcare, like many other sectors, is about to undergo a period of rapid transformation. With the increase of coronavirus and social distancing requirements, we see how each generation is using some form of technology to make healthcare decisions. Since the global pandemic, we’ve seen the weakness of our existing healthcare system and have been pushed towards more digitization and technology.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of digital technologies has accelerated almost overnight, with healthcare providers and patients finding new and innovative, socially-distanced ways to deliver and receive services. Most of the companies, including healthcare organizations and pharmaceutical companies, have quickly adopted and shifted toward better technologies, including blockchain technology, AI, and machine learning to provide better care. Longevity and the advancement of new technology and discoveries as well as unique combinations of old ones- are just a few of the many factors driving patient empowerment, which is profoundly changing how we prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases.

What other aspects of our daily lives do you hope to see enhanced by technology in the next few years?

There are many aspects of our daily life that we hope to see enhanced by technology in the next few years, whether it is related to our personal, professional, or overall well-being. With the rise of the global pandemic COVID-19, we have seen a lot of changes in our daily lives and our preference of living a life. One of its most defining impacts has been the widespread acceptance of working from home. With the technological advancements, people are working from their homes with flexible hours from any parts of the world. I believe this will continue to grow in the future and make our working lives easier and more convenient.

Share with us, what does the future hold for Patientory?

Patientory is currently looking forward to growth in adoption around our decentralized consumer app. My whole team is excited about this. We are pioneering a safer, more personalized way to manage your healthcare data by integrating the use of blockchain technology. Patientory will bridge the gap between holistic, quality care and access through enhanced interoperability and knowledge of the social determinants of health. Patientory’s virtual monitoring will enhance patients’ and providers’ knowledge of preventative care and the holistic, consistent review needed to treat chronic conditions. Simultaneously, Patientory will pioneer the adoption of blockchain technology in healthcare, creating a safer future for patients and providers to share data.

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