How a new app is helping health care providers keep patient information secure

'Even though our organization is very small, we have been able to make a huge impact'

The Hypercare team is working on innovative solutions to help doctors and other health care providers keep patients' personal information secure. SUBMITTED BY HYPERCARE

As the coronavirus surpassed the death toll of a figure of 100,000 people worldwide, hackers are escalating the fears surrounding the coronavirus to carry out cyberattacks on a massive scale. 

According to Proofpoint, a cybersecurity company that specializes in information and user data protection, malware and email viruses that use coronavirus-themed enticement to trick people have spread to more than a dozen countries. Health care technology vendors are rolling out software updates to help providers better detect and monitor potential cases. 

Hypercare became one of the organizations addressing and combating these kinds of issues. It’s a web and mobile platform founded by Albert Tai, Dr. Joseph Choi, and Umar Azhar that allows clinicians to communicate with other clinicians in real time, specifically about patients. The Toronto-based platform is being used by several hospitals and health care services in the Greater Toronto Area, and throughout Ontario.

“We are very interdisciplinary. So, we have designers, we have engineers, we have physical clinicians directly, and then we were advised by really strong sales experienced people as well, especially in health care,” Albert Tai told the Toronto Observer in an interview in March. “So we combine everything else, but we’re primarily different because we’re like a product-driven company.”

Albert Tai, Hypercare’s chief executive officer of Hypercare. SUBMITTED BY HYPERCARE

Tai, Hypercare’s chief executive officer, has focused on the communication dilemma doctors face when using pagers. Health care organizations have utilized other alternative solutions to abandon the pager system by using WhatsApp, which has raised privacy concerns and patient confidentiality issues.

“What ends up happening is the paging number is actually a landline. So, by the time I called this person back, I already missed them,” Tai said. “So, if you get multiple pages by the same number, you have zero idea if it’s the same emergency doctor paging you.”

Dr. Joseph Choi, Hypercare’s chief operating officer a current emergency physician, said using messaging platforms like WhatsApp is not ideal for doctors because it’s vulnerable to cybercrime.

“There are lots of those incidents that happen but never get caught. You realize it but there’s no damage other than the fact that there was a privacy breach,” he said in an interview this month. “So, with WhatsApp, you could theoretically delete all your messages and pretend like a conversation never happened. And that obviously has its own pros and cons.”

When Choi is asked what Hypercare is different when it comes to preventing cybercrime upon patient information committed by health care workers, he said it is the difference of the storage of data information.

 “Because of the way Hypercare is set up, depending on what the hospital wants the users want, we can keep a record of all the conversations and all the content,” he said.

Watch Hypercare’s founders describe how it works:

Hypercare has prioritized its communication system and displays that their system increases control workflow for health care organizations to focus on their tasks more efficiently.

Their features have increased since their initial function where they have added virtual switchboards with the presence of an automated switchboard operator, a smart directory with a filterable search directory, and a location feature.

It’s currently being used in 15 health care organizations including Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital, Reconnect Health Care, and seven other health care services associations in the Kitchener-Waterloo region. They advocated dedicating to reforming the majority of hospitals in Canada that do not offer secure ways of communicating patient information in an aspect that reflects modern care pathways and workflows.

Read more on the Toronto Observer:

Dr. Patrick Darragh, the chief medical information officer and staff physician at Michael Garron Hospital, said previous communication systems like pagers are time consuming for health care workers, whereas Hypercare has a specific feature that’s better.

“The locating information is now available on the phone and it’s immediately up to date or based on the schedule so we can see who’s on call,” Darragh said. “It’s far more convenient. And certain features like creating groups allow you to bring in multiple health care providers involved in the patient’s care.”

On March 14, Hypercare provided free unlimited service to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The company’s services are being offered for free for three months for new and existing users. 

“We’re taking big risks here. But, the way I see it is that we didn’t want to leverage this as an opportunity to make money and a lot of people are kind of doing that,” Tai said.

“At the end of the day, we set out to do this for the clinicians and we have clinicians in our team. I got passionate because I saw how hard clinicians work and we really want to solve that problem.”

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Posted: Apr 18 2020 9:58 am
Filed under: News