Why Data Security in Healthcare Must Adapt to Mobility

Mar 19, 2015 TigerText

By: Brad Brooks; TigerText Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

In 2014, the world became very aware of how vulnerable their data is. Home Depot, Target, Sony, Community Health Systems, and Anthem were only some of the many enterprises that got hacked last year. With the amount of data stolen, there is a high probability that some of your personal information was hacked in 2014 – even if you didn’t realize it.

For healthcare organizations, there is the added complexity of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations and protecting patients’ PHI (Protected Health Information). Due to the possibility of large violation fines and serious legal issues, HIPAA makes hackings and data security a primary concern for anyone in this industry.

Data was hard enough to secure when it was contained in a closed, controlled and limited IT network, but in the last couple of years the workforce is turning to more mobile devices including smart phones, tablets and laptops to access, process, distribute and manage their data and communications.

Combine this mobility with HIPAA, and there’s an even greater headache. Because HIPAA makes it critical for healthcare operations to ensure their data practices and technologies meet rigid standards, organizations must pay extra attention to their staff’s mobile habits, especially in regards to staff and patient communications. Basic SMS texting, for example, is not HIPAA compliant.

Additionally, several organizations have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy that requires employees to use their personal devices at work. While this saves organizations money, it also introduces a large and complex level of network access complications and risks. Today’s changing work environment is adding a new level of security risks with personal devices, and as we become more mobile, our data security methods need to adapt.

What to Expect In The Near Future

With this in mind, healthcare organizations are realizing the focus of their IT infrastructure must not only be on maintaining a HIPAA compliant data server, but also securing all data in transit and on mobile devices. If not, many levels of the business – from HIPAA compliance, Meaningful Use and Clinical Quality Measures to the company’s bottom line – could suffer.

Many in the industry are now talking about how to address the complexity of healthcare data security and HIPAA compliance. The consensus is to break the data security challenge into smaller pieces and address them with specific technologies. This direction will allow organizations to manage compliance and accommodate the needs of staff, while also protecting its PHI and other sensitive data from hackers and data breaches.

In the near future, we’ll begin to see more organizations turn to tools that offer both mobility AND security. Secure texting apps, MDM services, and health tracking apps are just a few of the many tools they’ll turn to as they enable staff to work more efficiently and safely. Being able quickly communicate, coordinate and send patient data securely on any device is crucial in a healthcare setting where many employees are often on the go and need information instantaneously.

Even now tools that offer both mobility and security are rapidly growing adoption. This further proves that CIOs are making the right shift. By adapting to today’s workplace trends and using more secure and mobile technologies, they’re protecting the various segments of the company’s data flows and also covering all their bases. What does that mean for the future of data security? It means we can look forward to data becoming more accessible and a whole lot safer.