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Healthcare Digitisation needs concurrent upgrade of cybersecurity


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM). It’s a key endpoint in the data integration aspect of the 2017 National Health Policy. The idea is to integrate data from the 1.5 lakh primary health centres, the pan-India medical insurance scheme for 100 million households and other sources to create a national digital health ecosystem. It will come with a unique health identifier on the lines of Aadhaar.

Data integration in the healthcare sector does provide huge benefits, subject to privacy laws being rigorously enforced.
The flip side, however, is that it requires enhancement of cybersecurity measures to a level that India is currently unaccustomed to. Digitised healthcare data has proved to be a particularly popular target in the U.S for ransomware attacks. The so-called “Ryuk gang” has hit at least 235 general hospitals and healthcare facilities in the U.S since 2018, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Healthcare facilities are particularly vulnerable as ransomware attacks can cut off a service provider’s access to critical data. Medical emergencies make hospitals vulnerable to extortion.
Therefore, the drive to digitise services and attendant records needs to be accompanied by far more attention to cybersecurityPrime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM). It’s a key endpoint in the data integration aspect of the 2017 National Health Policy.

The idea is to integrate data from the 1.5 lakh primary health centres, the pan-India medical insurance scheme for 100 million households and other sources to create a national digital health ecosystem. It will come with a unique health identifier on the lines of Aadhaar.

Also read: Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission will help bring revolutionary changes in India’s health facilities, says PM Modi

Data integration in the healthcare sector does provide huge benefits, subject to privacy laws being rigorously enforced.
The flip side, however, is that it requires enhancement of cybersecurity measures to a level that India is currently unaccustomed to. Digitised healthcare data has proved to be a particularly popular target in the US for ransomware attacks. The so-called “Ryuk gang” has hit at least 235 general hospitals and healthcare facilities in the US since 2018, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Healthcare facilities are particularly vulnerable as ransomware attacks can cut off a service provider’s access to critical data. Medical emergencies make hospitals vulnerable to extortion.
Therefore, the drive to digitise services and attendant records needs to be accompanied by far more attention to cybersecurity



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