Making Mobile Health Possible, Part 2

Posted: May 17, 2012 in HIPAA, Mobile, Rethink Remote Access
Tags: , , , , ,

Earlier this week, we explored the innumerable medical breakthroughs that could stem from mobile health innovations. Today, let’s consider the security considerations to enable this.

Security Must Be Paramount

Yet, considering how sensitive and valuable medical information is, proper precautions must be taken to secure this data before mobile health can become mainstream. For instance, if hackers or disloyal employees scan or manipulate health data that is sent via mobile applications, the consequences can range from embarrassment to, frankly, death. It’s easy to understand why ensuring these connections are secure is absolutely critical.

Mobile health, however, requires special VPN functionality. For instance, it requires both extremely high security and flexibility. After all, a healthcare application might use a potentially insecure public Wi-Fi network to communicate with the IT system of a hospital or a medical office. In order to maintain security in such a scenario, the VPN client must be able to automatically adapt to these security settings.

The same requirements apply to smartphones and tablets used by nurses in elderly or outpatient care. Such solutions relay patient information—from homes or hospitals—onto the central database, typically via a VPN connection. And so again, the VPN connection must be able to flexibly adapt to various network connections, given some of amount of unpredictability of the locations. Also, considering that many healthcare workers are not trained in technology, the VPNs must be easy to use, so convenience is not traded for security.

There’s no doubt mobile health offers innumerable opportunities to lower the cost of healthcare and infinitely improve efficiencies and convenience. The question is, can we ensure that this is done securely?

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