Mobile Device Security Considerations for Health Care Providers

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Apr 28, 2014 3:39:00 PM

Mobile Device Security Considerations for Health Care Providers

As many medical organizations are beginning to discover the hard way, the volume of diversity of connected devices in their workplaces have hit unprecedented levels, largely driven by major trends such as enterprise mobility and telehealth. All of these devices and the applications therein must be viewed as security threats when developing a policy, as failure to protect the various end points can lead to significant vulnerabilities and subsequent breaches after not too long. 

This is not to say that all mobile devices represent pure evil and should be avoided at all costs, as the tools are certainly strong drivers of productivity, quality of patient care and general corporate efficiency for the average medical firm. Rather, health care organizations need to be more vigilant than most when it comes to securing these devices, as well as virtually any equipment that is used to store, create, manipulate or transmit patient information. 

Medical identity theft might be the most dangerous form of the crime out there, largely because the fraudulent manipulation of patient histories can quickly turn into a life or death situation, especially when the victim goes in for surgery or another major care-related activity. However, health care providers can take steps to ensure that they are capturing the vast benefits of these mobile-oriented trends while successfully mitigating the various risks in real time. 

The first thing to remember is that the most effective strategies will be unique and highly customized to each specific medical organization, as a cookie-cutter approach to these activities will simply not, well, cut it. The following is a list of certain common considerations that all medical organizations will need to keep in mind when creating mobile device-related security strategies. 

One might think that this is a strange place to start a discussion about security, but that person should read through the massive wealth of research that has been released throughout the past several years. The single most common cause of data breach continues to be human error, and this is likely a symptom of the increasing complexity of IT arrangements and the relevant policies in the average workplace. 

By taking a user-centric approach to the development of security strategies, health care providers will be able to minimize the most common risk to data security that would otherwise intensify at the advent of mobility. Furthermore, this will decrease the threat of rogue IT, all the while working to maximize the benefits that should be recognized when mobility strategies are deployed. 

Oversight and monitoring
The sheer volume of devices, as well as end users, can make it extremely difficult for an IT department to keep a close eye on every point accessing the main infrastructure. This is a common issue across industries, as many decision-makers forget that the same number of IT professionals will often be tasked with managing an exponentially higher volume of devices and identities from the outset of new strategies. This is why more advanced supportive solutions must be implemented to assist IT professionals in their tasks. 

Cloud services are likely the most powerful options in this pursuit, as they can effectively centralize the management of all data, systems, access points and oversight frameworks with one fell swoop. This will generally give IT departments the extra power and control they need when trying to successfully secure, support and oversee mobile-driven operations. 

As more health care facilities begin to spread out amid population growth and increased economic wellness, communication between those in charge of security can be obstructed by physical and digital barriers. However, by using unified communications solutions, medical organizations will be able to scale up their office spaces more fluidly, while simultaneously improving the reliability of communication channels between all employees. 

One example is the increased utilization of video conferencing, which certain organizations have leveraged to maintain consistent monitoring over operational processes regardless of where employees are working from. 

People, processes and technology
Many experts and analysts have driven home the point that, in the modern market landscape, companies must be able to optimize their approaches to people, process and technological management with little disruption and few inconsistencies. When it comes to security, this is especially true and relevant, as the most protected and resilience organizations will have a strong combination of staff, process and technology oversight. 

This is not always the easiest task to complete, especially in health care where the devices and techniques entering the equation diversify more with the passing of each day. To make matters even more complicated, baby boomers are exiting the workforce relatively regularly, and younger employees are stepping into key positions. 

As such, sometimes the best approach to take is the way of the managed service provider, as this will ensure continuity of IT delivery and oversight regardless of internal fluctuations of any kind. By leaving both support and security to the professionals, in-house technology workers will be able to focus on more important, strategic matters. 

Topics: Business Extras