Network Security with electronic health records

Posted: July 28, 2009 in HIPAA, Posts

In last week’s highlights, we included a post from Branden Williams’ Security Convergence Blog on EMRs. We thought this weeks’ post would be a good opportunity to elaborate on Branden’s and our own from earlier in the year, How can businesses ensure HIPAA compliance?

The push is on for adoption and if healthcare providers don’t adapt, they face some potentially sharp teeth. We read that, “Failure to implement EMR by 2014 may result in increased malpractice premiums and increased exposure to malpractice claims, as well as a reduction in Medicare reimbursement, beginning in 2015”. Ouch!

So what’s the tie to VPN’s? We see a significant portion of the EMR communications being wireless. Don’t believe us? Next time you’re in a hospital, take note of all the handheld devices the staff is marching around with. How about hospice workers who update records via PDA’s? How about in-facility WLAN and WiFi networks? Doctors use laptops from room to room and hotspots are popping up in cafeterias, waiting rooms, etc. all over the country. The list goes on and as it grows so does the threat to information traveling wirelessly.

EMRs are a great benefit to the healthcare industry and have the potential to improve patient care definitively. With solid VPN’s in place, HIPAA can be satisfied as well as protecting the great benefits wireless communications have on worker productivity. The right VPN tech is important too – avoiding vendor lock, ensuring the tech fits facility policy and doesn’t force policy changes, and it must be easy enough to users that they don’t even notice it’s running (otherwise, they’ll find a way around it!).

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