Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Challenges of Rising Mobile Device Usage by Clinicians

Dramatic increases in efficiencies amongst healthcare providers can be directly attributed to the widespread adoption of mobile device use by clinicians.  As the demand for mobile device use increases, it is critical that healthcare providers develop a network infrastructure that is both robust and secure enough to support all of traffic being pushed across their wireless networks.

Insufficient data throughput, gaps in coverage, service interruptions, and wireless security are four major concerns relating to wireless networks in healthcare organizations today.  Addressing these issues requires optimizing the wireless network, which can include things like building redundancy into the wireless network, proper placement of access points throughout the location to provide a complete coverage model, and frequent and proactive testing of the wireless network to identify potential issues.

The wireless network will not only need to be robust, but it will also need to be secure. With the HIPAA Omnibus Rule being effective since September 23rd, 2013, healthcare organizations are now being held to higher standards of security and receiving more severe punishments for privacy breaches with protected health information (PHI). The Omnibus Rule implements privacy and security provisions proposed under the ARRA’s HITECH Act and affects privacy breach, minimum use, and disclosure reporting requirements.

Not only will patients and clinicians want to keep access data through their new mobile devices, they will still want to use their “old” stationary devices – meaning they want access with any device, anywhere, at any time. This creates an increased risk for data loss and privacy breaches; however, security measures can be taken through role-based access controls, authentication methods, and various Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) security products.

So when discussions begin to turn to mobile devices, regardless if they are discussing doctor’s iPads, the hospital’s mobile health (mHealth) devices, or even patient smartphones, it’s important to consider the implications to both your supporting network infrastructure as well as the security of your network and the data being held on it.

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