Healthcare Information Security

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Securing a healthcare mobile environment during EHR transition

By Frank Baer

- As evidenced by all of the recent healthcare regulation news, our industry is in a state of evolution. While government, healthcare professionals and patients are the ones actually driving change, it is technology that is helping to power and make the digital transition a reality.

This is true for my organization, Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS), a Denver-based nonprofit that serves nearly 10,000 individuals with cognitive and intellectual impairments. We turned to mobile technology to allow our 350 employees to communicate on-the-go and share critical data and information while visiting and working with children, individuals and families who have suffered brain injuries, developmental delays and much more.

Part of my job as the IT Manager at RMHS is to ensure we have the right mobile infrastructure strategy in place. Many of our employees, such as our Case Managers, are rarely at a desk and rely heavily on having information at their fingertips when meeting with a client. With this in mind, functionality was an important factor when considering mobile technology options. Security was also a top priority as our organization handles very private and sensitive client information.

We knew that to adhere to the strict regulations set forth for the industry, we had to invest in an Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution as well as devices that would efficiently manage and secure our data. After weighing the options, we chose BlackBerry smartphones. Deploying BlackBerry devices with secure enterprise apps, such as Citrix or Docs To Go, has tremendously reshaped how our field workers do their jobs. Through these and other applications, our employees can quickly pull information and review case notes from their devices, which proves to be easier and more secure than carrying around hard copies or laptops.  A mobile solution also allows us to achieve a higher level of immediacy and ease of productivity than the team has been accustomed.

Handling this type of information digitally sounds risky and expensive but it doesn’t have to be. Keep the following in mind when looking to make your workforce more mobile.

1. Level of Security – HIPAA standards are high, but so are patient and client expectations. It is important that the solution has a granular level of encryption that ensures all confidential data and patient information is secure and is compliant.

2. Remote Control – When going mobile there is risk of a device getting into the wrong hands. Device controlling and disabling from home base is essential to stop private information from getting into the wrong hands.

3. Simplicity – Change is hard and it is even harder if the technology is not easy for employees to use and navigate. Ensure that the solution will work for and can be easily implemented by all employees affected.

4. Future Capabilities – Health and human services are on a digital journey and a solution today needs to be able to handle the next phase or change. For example, we’re exploring the all mobile capabilities and finding that video chat features could become an integral part of our communication methods for company-wide meetings, eventually replacing our current application. We envision using this feature to help staff connect to their teams when they are in the field. We are also testing these devices to capture documents that we would otherwise have obtain and then return to our customers, including birth certificates and other sensitive documentation.

Frank Baer is the IT Manager at Rocky Mountain Human Services.

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