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Combating Mobile Health Threats: 13 Tips Everyone Should Read

There is a common theme I’ve noticed while I’ve been researching mHealth over the past few months: a great concern for safety and security. No one wants to download an app, or have their doctor use some kind of technology, if the information could somehow be leaked. A few months ago in Utah, there was a huge security breach where Medicaid and CHIP recipient’s information (birthdays, social security numbers, addresses…you know, all that information no one wants a hacker to have) was stolen. This kind of opened my eyes to how there needs to be security measures in place to make sure things like that don’t happen. While that didn’t have to do with security within mHealth, I feel like similar things could happen with patient information being transmitted within mobile devices.

So is there anything that can be done to protect this information? Well, I think for apps, it starts with the creator making sure there is a secure network. However, apps aren’t the only mobile health devices. There’s USB devices, laptops, and tablets as well. Michelle McNickle, New Media Producer for Healthcare IT News over at mhimss.com, posted 13 tips from ID experts on how to fight mobile device threats:

  1. Consider USB Locks
  2. Try geolocation tracking software or services
  3. Brick the device if it gets stolen or lost
  4. Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt
  5. Forget about “sleep” mode
  6. Recognize that employees will use personal devices
  7. Use strong safeguards to permit access to PHI through mobile devices
  8. Educate employees on the importance of safeguarding their mobile devices
  9. Implement electronic protector health information (EPHI) security
  10. Work to get ahead of the BYOD upgrade curve
  11. Have a proactive data management strategy
  12. Keep in mind transparency and end-user consent opt-in.
  13. Remember that the mobile Web and “app” landscape is not your father’s Internet

While some of this tips didn’t really pertain to me, overall, I found the list to be very helpful. Awhile back, I downloaded an app on my phone that allows me to “brick the device”, as was mentioned in step three. While the only part of the app I’ve (thankfully) had to use was the feature that sets off a very loud alarm because I couldn’t find it (we’re talking ambulance siren loud), I’m glad I would be able to wipe data if I truly did lose it and didn’t want my personal information stolen. Whether you are a consumer, employer, or a creator of apps or technology, reading through this list is important. More detailed explanations of each of the points can be found here.

June 29, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Trends in Healthcare Privacy and Security

A review by Government Health IT recently discussed the top ten trends in healthcare privacy and security.  You can find the top ten below, as well as the full article on their website.  It certainly raises a very interesting topic as we move forward into the new year.

Privacy and security are undoubtedly one of the biggest issues in the development of new technology.  In this increasingly connected world, it is essential that personal information be kept safe and secure.

I also can’t help bu think that the lack of mHealth specific guidance in one of the things keeping major breakthroughs from happening.  That being said we are starting to see approval of apps by government agencies that should create the framework for hard and fast legislation.

In the end, the most important aspect of this all is that patient privacy and security effectively protects the patient as well as the healthcare provider.

Top Ten Trends in Healthcare Privacy and Security

1. More policing, more penalties, OCR-style.

2. Increase in healthcare data breaches.

3. A wider use of mobile devices in medicine.

4. Massive-scale data breaches in healthcare.

5. Greater patient awareness.

6. Taking protected health information (PHI) to the cloud.

7. Increased use of business associates (BAs).

8. OCR starts the HIPAA audit program.

9. The use of cyberliability insurance to manage data breach risks.

10. Data breaches are costing hospitals more than ever.

December 28, 2011 I Written By