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Mobile App Security Top Concern for Health IT Decision Makers

Ninety-eight percent of respondents in a recent survey cited mobile app security as a key concern, including areas like data encryption and HIPAA compliance.

By Elizabeth Snell

More healthcare providers are looking for ways to implement the latest mobile technologies, but mobile app security concerns and a failure to properly budget for IT changes could potentially put a damper on mHealth growth, according to a recent Red Hat survey.

Mobile app security top issue for IT decision makers, recent survey finds

Nearly all of the survey respondents - 98 percent - reported that they experience challenges when implementing mobile solutions, including security, cost, regulatory and compliance issues, and users/patient/customer adoption.

Red Hat and research firm Vanson Bourne interviewed 200 IT decision makers from public and private healthcare organizations, as well as life sciences and pharmaceutical organizations in the U.S., France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Data encryption from device back-end systems was a key concern listed by 30 percent of US respondents, while 29 percent said that end-to-end HIPAA compliance was a top issue for mobile app security.

In terms of technical challenges for US healthcare companies, 29 percent of those respondents said back-end integration to healthcare systems was the largest issue. Securing access to data was cited by 27 percent of the US respondents.

The survey also found that healthcare organizations may not be adjusting their IT budgets to account for the influx of new mobile options. For example, 82 percent of respondents said they have a fully implemented mobile strategy and 78 percent stated that they are achieving positive ROI from mobile app investments.

Surveyed organizations also said they hoped to develop 36 percent more apps in the next year. However, respondents are only planning to increase their budget 15.5 percent to support such a move.

This disparity between investment growth and desired app volumes  may not be achieved by developing mobile apps as one-off projects,” the researchers explained. “Rather a modern platform-based approach that supports agile development and modern API-based architecture can help increase developer efficiency, reduce development costs, and support the increasing demand for mobile apps.”

Fifty-nine percent of US respondents also said that mobile apps are currently provided primarily for doctors, with 55 percent stating that it was mainly for patients or members.

This could be a factor in why healthcare provider demand for better patient engagement was listed as a key driver for mobile app development by 60 percent of US organizations. Over half of US healthcare respondents - 56 percent - also said that external/member/patient demand for mobile apps was a top driver for mobile app development.

Data security is often seen as a key area of concern for healthcare organizations, especially as covered entities are looking to improve their mobile security approaches.

Just last month, a Spok, Inc. survey administered by the College of Healthcare Information Management (CHIME) found that 81 percent of CIOs had strengthening data security as their top business goal for the next 18 months.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents also said that implementing a secure texting solution was a current project, with 84 percent of CIOs citing secure messaging and communications among their care team as a top driver in their selection and deployment of mobile applications.

“Adoption of new technology requires change management to be most effective,” Spok, Inc. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Andrew Mellin said in a statement. “The organizations we’ve seen with the most successful secure text messaging rollouts first identify key clinical challenges and workflow frustrations for end users and then deploy the technology alongside process improvement and change management activities to demonstrate value to the provider, care team, and patient.”   

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