As the world continues to enjoy the reliability of web-based applications, security of such applications is becoming an increasingly vital concern. Currently, virtually all sectors are implementing some form of internet-based programs. The World Wide Web has significantly led to desirable expansion in business, healthcare, government and social services (Lee, Shieh & Tygar, 2005, p.184). However, the number of internet attacks has equally increased in the recent past. Hackers have become more adept in writing malicious codes to counter the conventional software codes developed by software vendors. The emergence of various types of vulnerabilities and generation of malicious codes on the internet platform has affected service provision in many sectors. The healthcare field is a particularly sensitive area where privacy and confidentiality of information are immensely important. Storage, transmission and implementation of health-related data and information are some of the processes which require secure online platforms. As such, it is very important to provide security in web applications used in the health sector. This paper explores the impacts of web application security in e-health.
Provision of integral healthcare in the modern medical profession has taken a new direction with regards to storage of clinical data and patients’ records (Chryssanthou & Apostolakis & Varlamis, 2010, p.3). In order to achieve a shared healthcare paradigm, implementation of web-based applications has become inevitable. Electronic health records (EHRs) have become a common buzzword in healthcare issues and facilities. The advent of EHRs has reliably replaced paperwork in medical informatics (Chryssanthou & Apostolakis & Varlamis, 2010, p.3). The EHR can be designed as an online-hosted platform in which medical information, patients’ health records and clinical data are stored. Security policies and programs must be integrated during the structuring of the EHRs, due to a number of reasons which are related to availability, confidentiality, privacy and authenticity of data and information. Security in e-health services requires safe transmission of data to and from the EHRs (Chryssanthou & Apostolakis & Varlamis, 2010, p.3).
Impacts of Web Applications Security on Healthcare Issues and Facilities
Telemedicine technologies that have been developed recently depend on web-based applications. Emergency healthcare in telemedicine areas such as telecardiology, teleradiology and telepathology require adequate availability of patient’s information stored in the internet-based EHRs (Chryssanthou & Apostolakis & Varlamis, 2010, p.213). Availability of clinical data can be enhanced through mitigation of denial of service (DoS) attacks (Dristas et al, n.d). DoS attacks involve starving a computer system of vital computing resources, a factor that leads to unavailability of medical information that is stored in EHRs. Thus, if security in web applications is increased, emergency medical services can be provided safely and timely (Dristas et al, n.d). Security in data transmission with regards to availability of data for emergency medical services can be achieved through network protection (Demiris, 2004, p.19). Embedding firewalls can prevent network hijackers from getting access into the network.
Security in web applications can also help in improving remote access of medical resources (Demiris, 2004, p.19). For instance, doctors in understaffed areas such as dispensaries and ambulance vehicles need to access data from main data servers. This remote access of health resources helps in deployment of data links and necessary information that improves service provision in the healthcare field (Chryssanthou & Apostolakis & Varlamis, 2010, p.4). Secure interconnection between information end-users and data servers is critically important in healthcare provision, since it enables health stakeholders to communicate effectively. As such, security in web applications in the healthcare sector can be associated with adequate availability of information that is required to enable execution of various medical practices. Sharing of health information among healthcare stakeholders helps in integrating medical practices, a process that can only be achieved through security improvement.
Data privacy is one of the most essential requirements of an electronic health record (Chryssanthou & Apostolakis & Varlamis, 2010, p.3). One of the most notable impacts of security in web applications in healthcare is that it fosters a desirable physician-patient relationship. This is because the patient is guaranteed privacy of the sensitive information the he or she provides for storage in the EHRs. Based on the stipulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), data privacy must be enhanced in EHRs (Demiris, 2004, p.19). Modern EHRs store extremely sensitive and personal data. For instance, information on dietary habits, sexual orientations, family history and income status requires maximum privacy from unauthorized access. Security in data access from internet-based EHRs can be achieved through addressing access control (Demiris, 2004, p.19). The use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) in data transmission is an important practice in ensuring information privacy (Maglogiannis, Karpouzis & Wallace, 2006, p.51).