Maximizing Patient Care: Securing the Email Workhorse of Healthcare Portals, Platforms and Applications

Share with your network!

In the modern healthcare industry, healthcare portals, platforms and applications serve as tireless workers. They operate around the clock, making sure that crucial information reaches patients and providers. At the heart of it all is email—an unsung hero that delivers appointment reminders, test results, progress updates and more. 

Healthcare portals, platforms and applications and many of the emails they send contain sensitive data. That means they are a top target for cyber criminals. And data breaches can be expensive for healthcare businesses. Research from IBM shows that the average cost of a healthcare data breach—$10.93 million—is the highest of any industry. In addition, IBM reports that since 2020 data breach costs have increased 53.3% for the industry.

In this post, we explore how a Proofpoint solution—Secure Email Relay—can help healthcare institutions to safeguard patient information that is transmitted via these channels. 

Healthcare technology in use today

First, let’s look at some of the main types of healthcare portals, platforms and applications that are in use today. 

  • Patient portals. Patient portals have transformed the patient and provider relationship by placing medical information at patients’ fingertips. They are a gateway to access medical records, view test results and schedule appointments. And they offer patients a direct line to communicate with their healthcare team. The automated emails that patient portals send to patients help to streamline engagement. They provide useful information and updates that help people stay informed and feel more empowered.
  • Electronic health record (EHR) systems. EHR applications have revolutionized how healthcare providers manage and share patient information with each other. These apps are digital repositories that hold detailed records of patients’ medical journeys—data that is used to make medical decisions. EHR apps send automated emails to enhance how providers collaborate on patient care. Providers receive appointment reminders, critical test results and other vital notifications through these systems.
  • Health and wellness apps. For many people, health and wellness apps are trusted companions. These apps can help them track fitness goals, monitor their nutrition and access mental health support, to name a few services. Automated emails from these apps can act as virtual cheerleaders, too. They provide users with reminders, progress updates and the motivation to stick with their goals.
  • Telemedicine platforms. Telemedicine platforms offer patients access to virtual medical consultations. They rely on seamless communication—and emails are key to that experience. Patients receive emails to remind them about appointments, get instructions on how to join virtual consultations, and more.

The unseen protector: security in healthcare emails

Healthcare providers need to safeguard patient information, and that includes when they rely on healthcare portals, platforms and applications to send emails to their patients. Proofpoint Secure Email Relay (SER) is a tool that can help them protect that data.

SER is more than an email relay. It is a security-centric solution that can ensure sensitive data is only exchanged within a healthcare ecosystem. The solution is designed to consolidate and secure transactional emails that originate from various clinical and business apps. 

SER acts as a guardian. It helps to ensure that compromised third-party entities cannot exploit domains to send malicious emails—which is a go-to tactic for many attackers.

Key features and benefits of Proofpoint SER

Here are more details about what the SER solution includes.

Closed system architecture

Proofpoint SER features a closed-system approach. That means it permits only verified and trusted entities to use the email relay service. This stringent measure can lead to a drastic reduction in the risk associated with vulnerable or compromised email service providers. No more worrying about unauthorized users sending emails in your business’s name.

Enhanced security controls

Proofpoint SER features security controls similar to those in your user-generated email environment. With these tools, you can customize settings for automated emails so that they maintain the highest levels of security. The SER solution employs DKIM signatures for transactional emails. It also supports DMARC compliance and speeds up message authentication, which helps to improve deliverability.

Throttle blacklisting risk mitigation

Excessive email volume can trigger throttling or blacklisting by email service providers. Proofpoint SER helps to mitigate this risk. It keeps messaging traffic separate from application-generated emails. This helps to ensure that critical alerts to patients, like appointment reminders, won’t be blocked.

Smooth cloud transition

The healthcare industry is increasing its use of the cloud to deliver a whole range of IT services. Some institutions even want to eliminate their on-premises data centers. If healthcare businesses want to reduce their on-premises footprint or have a cloud-first strategy, Proofpoint SER is a hosted solution that can support these initiatives without sacrificing security.

Compliance enhancement

Healthcare institutions can find DMARC’s stringent standards and other compliance demands tough to navigate. Proofpoint SER helps with that. With DKIM signatures for all transactional emails, compliance becomes a strategic advantage and not just an obligation. 

Protect patient and financial data

Proofpoint SER helps protect sensitive data in transactional emails. Any app-generated messages that contain sensitive information can be transport- and/or payload-encrypted. Healthcare businesses can apply data loss prevention (DLP) policies to stop protected health information (PHI) or personally identifiable information (PII) from being transmitted.

A future of resilient healthcare communication

Healthcare institutions must reinforce their defenses to protect the sensitive patient information that is entrusted to them. That is not an easy task in a world where cyber threats are always evolving and attackers are keen to steal this high-value information.

On the email front, Proofpoint Secure Email Relay can provide help. It allows healthcare businesses to send transactional emails with confidence, streamline communication and uphold patient trust. With Proofpoint SER, the future of healthcare communication is not just secure—it is resilient.

For more information about Proofpoint Secure Email Relay, download our data sheet. You can also learn more about our other healthcare industry solutions here