How to Ensure HIPAA Compliance with Healthcare Robots and AI Systems?

Laws that control data privacy and security in the healthcare industry fall under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and its regulations. Despite this, HIPAA’s privacy and security rules predate the widespread use of AI and robotics in healthcare. Are robots and AI systems subject to HIPAA regulations in the therapeutic setting? Yes. Because of the way the law was written, robots and AI systems must comply with HIPAA.

Patient Medical Data Protection

Patient Medical Data Protection

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In general, HIPAA and its provisions include the protection of “protected health information” (PHI). Protecting PHI necessitates a combination of administrative, physical, and technical measures that are both reasonable and appropriate. In the age of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), the law has the ability to adapt to new conditions and technology. A few high-level guidelines for safeguarding PHI processed by robots and AI systems are discussed in this blog post.


A growing number of healthcare facilities are beginning to make use of robots in the delivery of care. The use of surgical robots for specialized procedures is becoming more and more widespread. In a medical context, service robots now do jobs that previously required human labor, such as transporting linen stacks around the facility. For the first time, doctors are using telepresence robots to do their rounds. If, for example, a physician on call in the middle of the night were to control a robot in a medical institution remotely, he or she could maneuver it around the corridors and into patient rooms, engaging with patients and other personnel via the robot’s screen, speakers, and microphone. Doctors can use mobile technology to conduct duties that would normally necessitate their physical presence while still feeling fully immersed in the surroundings. Additionally, individuals with highly infectious diseases such as Ebola may benefit from telepresence robots.

Again, hacking is a major worry. Patients could be harmed if a surgical robot is tampered with by an attacker. Video, audio, and image recordings are all possible with some telepresence robots. A patient’s recordings could be accessed by someone who is eavesdropping on them. It is also possible for hackers to gain access to a robot’s communication channels and use them for harmful or spying reasons.

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When using robots in a medical context, it’s critical to follow the “security by design” guidelines. In addition, any new vulnerabilities must be addressed with regular software and firmware updates. And last but not least, a security provider is required to host the linked applications and data. Information and the systems used to collect it should be protected. The device’s communications can be protected with transmission security processes and technologies. Encryption should be used by the vendor to protect the data it collects. Access to devices should also be restricted to the organization’s infrastructure.

Systems With Artificial Intelligence

Healthcare will soon be impacted by AI. When we use virtual personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Now, we’ve become accustomed to AI systems in the real world. When it comes to making diagnoses, IBM’s Watson and Big Data are helping doctors make better decisions. Patients and caregivers can also benefit from AI-based systems that help them follow prescription recommendations and provide assistance. Electronic health record data is included in several of these systems.

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The “security by design” principles that apply to robots also apply to AI systems. It’s critical to create systems that keep user data safe from illegal access, to ensure the system’s integrity and reliability, and guarantee its availability. In order to ensure that the AI system is working as stated, an organization may request testing or certification results. A third option is that the AI application is delivered remotely by a third-party vendor. Maintaining the security of the communications link between the AI system and the vendor, as well as the vendor’s supervision and oversight, becomes critical. Finally, in order to communicate with the user, some AI systems may necessitate a continuous Internet connection. Maintaining availability necessitates maintaining connectivity with backup capability.




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