Over the last few years, cell phones have become computers, capable of much of the functionality that your office computer has. This is also true for small portable devices such as iPads, Windows and Android tablets. Are these devices and applications as secure as those you use from your clinic? In most cases, the answer is no.
The applications used on these devices are primarily downloaded and installed by the Apple App store or the Android Google Play store. While your EMR provider or clinic application provider may furnish them through a different mechanism, they are all being used on the device using the same storage and memory and therefore all applications are vulnerable, especially the applications that synch to your systems that contain ePHI. Mobile applications have become one of the hackers leading vectors to exploit. Research suggests that up to 90 percent of Smartphones and tablets have been hacked. This can result in a loss of reputation and business revenue.
Medical practices usually don’t give portable computing devices the same focus on security as they do with office computers. Security for these devices should always meet or exceed the same HIPAA guidelines you use for workstations and notebooks.
How to secure your mobile devices:
Take advantage of the articles that have been published regarding portable device security in a company that must meet HIPAA guidelines. The HIPAA Journal is a good source for this information. Your IT staff or 3rd party IT provider should be able to assist you with a security roadmap.
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