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Mobile Device Security Worries Plague Healthcare Providers

Mobile device security is a top concern of healthcare providers when it comes to their mobile programs.

mobile device security

Source: Thinkstock

By Fred Donovan

- Mobile device security is a top concern of healthcare providers when it comes to their mobile programs, according to a survey of 600 healthcare IT decision makers conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of mobile device management (MDM) provider Jamf.

Despite their concern, a full 90 percent of respondents said their institution is implementing or planning to implement a mobile initiative. And nearly half plan to increase mobile device usage within the next two years.

Respondents said that they are using or plan to use mobile devices at nurses’ stations, administrative offices, patient rooms, clinical care teams, and administrative staff.

The survey found that the use of mobile devices has a positive impact on employee productivity and patient experience scores.

But nearly one-third of respondents who are not implementing a mobile device initiative are avoiding this because of security concerns.

More than three-quarters of organizations surveyed currently have a mobile device management (MDM) solution in place. Of those, 30 percent are not confident with their current solution, the survey found.

Close to half of respondents said that their MDM provider needs to enhance the security of its platform. Around 45 percent judged that their MDM provider should lower the cost of its solution, and 43 percent said the provider needs to improve user training.

“Security breaches in general are growing exponentially in the healthcare industry. As mobile device initiatives expand in healthcare for use-cases such as patient engagement and clinical care, it is worrying that healthcare IT decision makers are becoming less confident in their mobile device management solution,” said Jamf Healthcare Alliance Manager Adam Mahmud.

One way to improve healthcare mobile security is to couple MDM with mobile content management (MCM). An MCM solution provides secure file-sharing among users and manages which files are stored on the devices and for how long.  It functions as an authentication tool to protect networks from security threats introduced by mobile devices.

With MCM, users can access the same content repository simultaneously and different file types can be displayed depending on what kind of mobile device is used. For example, a smartphone can display files to users in a way that is different from how files are displayed on a laptop or tablet.

This is especially important when it comes to viewing medical files. Patient records and medical charts need to be displayed correctly for clinicians to use them effectively.

MAM controls user access to applications within the network and which policies belong to which apps; it protects app data by wrapping it in an encrypted tunnel.

MDM, MCM, and mobile application management can be combined in a complete enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution. While EMM might seem like the best solution to cover all the bases when managing mobile devices, an organization should assess whether it needs a solution that does so many things.

Concern about mobile security is nothing new for the healthcare industry. A 2016 survey of 200 IT decision makers by Vanson Bourne for Red Hat found that virtually all respondents had security concerns about implementing mobile app solutions, with data encryption and HIPAA compliance issues at the top of the list.

More than one-quarter of respondents said back-end integration to healthcare systems was the largest concern. Securing access to data was cited by 27 percent of the US respondents.

The RedHat survey also found that healthcare organizations may not be adjusting their IT budgets to account for the influx of new mobile options. Respondents 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.

There is little doubt that the healthcare industry will increasingly use mobile devices and apps because of their convenience and efficiency. But the healthcare industry faces data privacy and security requirements not faced by many other industries that are deploying mobile solutions.

Healthcare IT decision makers will have to find the right balance between efficiency and security when it comes to using mobile devices and apps.

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