In the digital health market, telcos can position themselves as long-term partners to healthcare providers, providing end-to-end solutions from connectivity to managed services. In particular, data security and patient data regulations present a critical consideration for digital health solutions and can present a barrier to digital health adoption.

Cyberattacks are increasing with the integration of digital health solutions that digitise patient information and digitally connect medical devices. Moreover, patient data is highly sensitive and regulated to ensure security, privacy and in many cases, specific data sharing and data residency requirements. Thus, patient data security is of utmost importance to healthcare providers.

Ransomware attacks on healthcare information have been particularly pervasive. One recent example is a ransomware attack on the Irish healthcare system, the Health Service Executive (HSE), in May 2021. The attack demanded nearly $20 million under threat of releasing healthcare data. The cyberattack resulted in delayed and cancelled appointments and procedures, as well as a significant cost to the HSE as it responds to the attack and rebuilds its systems.

Telcos can position themselves as reputable digital health partners ensuring data privacy and security requirements are met, for example via the provision of secure connectivity, localised and secure data centre and Cloud services, as well as cybersecurity solutions.

Moreover, players in the digital health space need to ensure that their solutions are compliant with the data protection regulations in the countries they operate in.

Countries protect their patient data through regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the US legislation that protects medical data privacy and security, and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU regulation about data protection and the privacy of EU and European Economic Area residents. In addition, regulations have been established to ensure the security and interoperability of patient data sharing as patient data sharing between healthcare providers, patients, and digital health providers have become integral to digital health solutions. For example, the European Commission adopted an exchange format for electronic health records (EHRs) that allows patients to access and exchange their medical records from within any EU country.

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By GlobalData

Germany has passed the Hospital Futures Act that aims to advance hospital digitalisation efforts while emphasising cybersecurity. In January 2021, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health initiated the Hospital Futures Act that makes a total of €4.3bn ($4.8bn) available for hospital digitisation. To mitigate the risk of cyberattacks, hospitals must spend 15% on IT security to get access to funding. In response, Deutsche Telekom has positioned itself as a partner to hospitals to develop a plan with its solutions that meets the Act’s IT security requirements to receive funding.

As such, GlobalData sizes the security market in healthcare at $5.0bn in 2021 globally, increasing at a CAGR of 9.2% in 2021-2024 to $6.5bn in 2024.