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Mobile Devices and HIPAA Compliance

Medical Mobile DevicesMobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets are used now, more than ever, in healthcare because of their convenience, ease of use, and ability to transmit data efficiently. In addition, apps on mobile devices have made previously arduous tasks more manageable by providing healthcare workers with the ability to complete their work in less time.

Time management apps and other apps such as those used for maintenance of health records, patient monitoring, and medical training have given health care professionals the ability to make informed, sometimes life saving, medical decisions much more quickly than in the past.

However, the convenience of using a mobile device can leave those in the healthcare industry vulnerable to cyber attacks if certain guidelines for protecting and securing information are not followed properly.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has put together a fact sheet to ensure your organization knows how to protect the private health information.

It includes:

  • Installing and enabling encryption

  • Use of a password (to lock a mobile device and to lock apps within a mobile device)

  • Installing and activating wiping and/or remote disabling to have the ability to erase data on a mobile device if it’s lost or stolen

  • Disabling file-sharing applications if they are installed

  • Installing and enabling a firewall

  • Installing and enabling security software and keeping security software up-to-date

  • Researching mobile apps thoroughly before downloading (to ensure privacy and prevent hacking)

  • Maintaining physical control of your mobile device

  • Using adequate security to send or receive health information via secure Wi-Fi

  • Properly deleting all stored health information on a mobile device prior to discarding it

Secured Medical Mobile DevicesA healthcare organization should have policies and procedures in place for the use of personal mobile devices versus those provided by the company for work use.

In addition to these guidelines, HHS has a web page dedicated to health information privacy and security on mobile devices. It includes helpful documentation as well as videos to watch to help train  staff on the use of mobile devices and HIPAA compliance. It also includes downloadable training materials for healthcare staff with postcards such as "10 Tips to Protect and Secure Health Information When Using a Mobile Device".

Technology safeguards can be put in place for mobile devices, but some of the biggest breaches have occurred when a person using a device is not well informed about how to prevent access to private information. Recent research by Arxan Technologies found that 84 percent of health related apps were open to hacking through code tampering and reverse-engineering. In addition, most app users are not fully aware of the privacy policies for apps and how the private information is used once the app is activated on their mobile device.  

Continually reviewing and updating technology and training is imperative to keeping mobile devices HIPAA compliant. Utilizing a certified and knowledgeable HIPAA I.T. professional such as Data Fast Solutions can ensure your mobile technology is well protected and your staff is up-to-date on how to prevent a cyber attack via a mobile device.

This article is ©2016 Data Fast Solutions • All Rights Reserved

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