Mobile healthcare, telemedicine, telehealth, BYOD

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Will Guidelines Ensure an Effective Mobile Security Strategy?

By Vera Gruessner

- One of the key drivers of the healthcare industry today is the mobile device. Whether it be smart phones, tablets, laptops, or wearable clothing, these devices can gather a wide range of information and store data that could be imperative for managing disease, diagnosis, or treatment throughout the medical field. As the amount of data continues to grow through the use of apps and other tools, it becomes more necessary than ever before to create an effective mobile security strategy.

Mobile Health Security

The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) recently released a guideline beginning a series of publications that will help healthcare organizations and other businesses methods for enhancing their cyber security as well as create a mobile security strategy. Medical care providers using these guidelines would be able to learn how to use their smart phones or tablets to better secure and protect patient data while at the same time benefiting from the communication channels offered via mobile devices.

"The NCCoE was established specifically to help organizations solve real-world challenges, and this was one of particular concern to the health care community," NCCoE Director Donna Dodson said in a public statement. "This guide can help providers protect critical patient information without getting in the way of delivering quality care."

While some stolen personal data could impact the financial future of an individual, the hacking and stealing of private medical information poses more serious concerns such as the stealing of an entire identity. Additionally, this type of occurrence could severely hurt a patient in the form of misdiagnosis or the wrong treatment. For instance, if a patient's health insurance has already covered a particular medication due to a stolen identity, the original person who's been prescribed certain pills will be unable to obtain their needed meds.

Incorrect prescriptions or delayed treatment are major concerns when it comes to data security in the healthcare field. As more physicians, nurses, and other providers continues to use smart phones or tablets at work, it grows vital to develop a companywide mobile security strategy.

Unfortunately, the capabilities of storing and accessing digital health records on mobile devices is growing faster than coders' ability to secure the relevant data. The NCCoE guidelines called Securing Electronic Records on Mobile Devices offers effective best practices and standards as well as follows HIPAA Privacy Rules.

The executive summary outlining the mobile health security guidelines covers five key strategies. These are:

1) Patient data stored in electronic medical records will need to be protected to avoid any potential issues related to identity theft or privacy.

2) Unprotected data that is stored, collected, or accessed on smart phones or other mobile devices is vulnerable to a cyber attack.

3) The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) created a better solution to cyber attacks using new products.

4) The example solution can be viewed in a "How To" guide that offers detailed instructions for providers.

5) Healthcare organizations would be able to use all or only parts of the guidelines to follow best practices and relevant standards.

"We know from working with them that health care organizations want to protect their clients' personal information and themselves from the high costs associated with breaches," continued Dodson. "This guide can be an important tool among the many they use to reduce risk."

These guidelines were created by industry experts and academic cyber security professionals. As the healthcare industry continues to bring patient data to the table via mobile devices, it will grow all the more important to follow these guidelines when developing a strong mobile security strategy.


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