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5 ways to secure and protect confidential patient data on mobile devices

Jul 27, 2016 | 42Gears Team

5 ways to secure and protect confidential patient data on mobile devices

As hospitals embrace mobile devices for daily work and store patient data, securing them is getting inevitable and difficult. According to a report published by Institute for Health Technology Transformation 2015, patient records are easily available in the black market and is valued at $50 per patient. The same report also mentioned that the amount increases to $500 if the record included other details like patient’s health insurance information, driver license number and more.

As a matter of fact, an unsecured mobile device can be an easy access point to get patient records. To avoid such instances, IT teams in hospitals must ensure the security of mobile devices. They can do it by establishing formal security policies that safeguards smartphones and tablets.

Here are some steps that IT teams in hospitals can implement to strengthen mobile device security and avoid data loss or theft.

Endpoint management

As hospitals are increasingly deploying mobile devices for medical staffs, setting up an MDM is a must. A robust MDM solution enables IT teams to track, locate and monitor devices in real time, remotely install apps, transfer files to devices and more. Other key feature like remotely locking and wiping data off mobile devices also could be really helpful for lost or stolen devices.

Implementing user validation controls

Inadequate security controls is one of the leading threats of using mobile device in healthcare. Using biometrics and activating passcodes to lock devices can keep device data safe from threats. In any event, healthcare providers must use such device locking mechanisms to secure devices used for daily activities.

Deploying an application policy

Employees using their personal devices to store patient data must be educated on evaluating mobile applications. They must seek approval for the installation of unapproved apps as it is important for them to realize the threats associated with risky apps.

Encrypting patient records

As mobile devices become commonplace in hospitals, encrypting them is important. Encryption helps mitigate security risks. Encryption transforms legible data into cipher text, so that anyone trying to read the data finds nothing more than unintelligible writing. Most major mobile devices support hardware encryption, including Android, and iOS devices. Furthermore, encrypting patient records in mobile devices allow IT administrators to enable the destruction of data remotely.

Encouraging regular updates

One of the most important aspects of any security strategy includes updating operating systems frequently. There are numerous vulnerabilities in different operating systems and hackers target such vulnerabilities. Even though hackers quickly find bugs in the new operating system, companies always publish regular updates. These security updates protect against security exploits. In other words, regular operating system updates will protect all patient data.

All things considered, mobile devices offer physicians an effective way to communicate with patients and access their health records. They will continue to use them to connect with each other as well as to exchange protected health information.

By and large, securing patient records on mobile devices comes down to the same principles that anyone would use to protect their own personal data. In many countries the responsibility for data security rests firmly on hospitals. As a result, it is essential for them to recognize every precaution to protect patient health records to avoid expensive penalties and severe reputational damage. Hence, giving mobile security enough attention would help hospitals avoid costly security breaches.


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