Unsecure use of WhatsApp in Healthcare

By Krupa Bhagani

Apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have become the de-facto “urgent” way to communicate. With WhatsApp boasting a database of almost 1.2 billion users and the popular way to communicate with your friends, it’s not surprising to see 95% of Australian doctors starting to use this innovative technology to conduct patient care.

WhatsApp messaging has increasingly become attractive to doctors because it enables them to efficiently communicate with their colleagues regarding workflow, which legacy hospital communication systems such as, pagers and landlines, is deficient.

But for all their utility, WhatsApp is not a secure form of messaging and is unsafe to handle confidential patient data. The technology is emergent but not compliant with Australian Privacy Law and its relevant Privacy Principles, which regulates how confidential personal health information should be handled.

Despite WhatsApp being end to end encrypted, there are several security flaws, which compromises the integrity of confidential personal health information. For instance, WhatsApp does not have a passcode and images are stored on the phone – open invitation for inappropriate use.

Every conversation through text, voice or video using WhatsApp is exposing sensitive data to be exploited by cyber criminals.

myBeepr offers a much needed solution where doctors can message securely between smartphones. Hospital IT department can institute compliance-driven rules like archiving or even automatic message deletion, maintaining patient confidentiality. Also, it’s passcode access prevents unauthorised third parties from entering the app and stealing sensitive data.

myBeepr is first of its kind to meet the critical needs of Australian healthcare organisations when it comes to providing a secure, easy-to-use channel to communicate in real-time. Its customised features replicates medical workflow; empowering doctors to work efficiently and effectively.

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