Hospitals and clinical practices must be aware of the threat of data breaches and patient health data theft as more health and wellness programs and procedure applications become available on mobile devices. Sensitive patient data is now accessible through mobile devices that often lack extensive security. Securing mobile devices in healthcare is key to keeping your entire organization healthy. In this blog post, we discuss the security strategies healthcare systems will need to implement to ensure mobile device security.

Trust No One

The common assumption with mobile devices is that they are more secure than, say, your emails or even other devices like your laptop. Often, this is not true. Remember, mobile devices are “walking computers.” This means they are hackable, especially without the right safeguards in place. This can lead to potential HIPAA violations, not to mention creating the risk of data breaches. To protect patient information and confidentiality, security should be a top priority.

Complexities for mobile device security in healthcare include:

  • Increased adoption of mobile devices means increased complexity of mobile security needs
  • Dramatic increase in the sheer number of devices being used and the variety, especially with BYOD
  • Challenges of implementing the proper security controls and safety protocols, even by the most technologically advanced teams
  • Strict and complicated federal privacy and security guidelines and the number of restrictions, requirements, and compliance standards
  • Smaller IT departments with a fraction of the time or resources to focus on mobility management

This is where endpoint management comes into play. Unified endpoint management (UEM) solutions for healthcare can make it a lot easier to protect yourself and your patients by shifting the weight of these challenges from individuals to state-of-the-art technology that can streamline management and strengthen security.

Best Practices for Mobile Device Security in Healthcare

Tip #1: ePHI policies
You must have policies in place that address if, how, and when employees are allowed to access, create, transmit, or store electronic patient health information (ePHI) on mobile devices—both corporate and personal devices.

Tip #2: Physical safeguards
If employees are permitted to remove devices from your physical location, make sure there are policies in place around not using public Wi-Fi, not leaving the device unattended, and what to do if the device is lost or stolen. With UEM, you can track device locations as well as remotely wipe devices before they fall into the wrong hands.

Tip #3: User authentication controls
A device that can’t be accessed is the safest device. However, it’s not functional. Balancing access with productivity is key. Multi-factor authentication can go a long way in protecting devices, as can strong passwords, biometrics, and privacy policies.

Tip #4:  Encryption
Whenever possible, install or enable encryption on all mobile devices. Requiring encryption for devices to be enrolled in your UEM will enable you to enforce policies and maintain the desired level of IT security control.

Tip #5: Application policy
In the case of corporate devices, it’s best to lock down unapproved applications not just for security but also for employee productivity. File-sharing applications should also be banned. When it comes to BYOD, UEM can help you compartmentalize personal and corporate so that nothing is accidentally shared.

Tip #6: BYOD policies
As BYOD in healthcare increases, policies must be in place that employees can easily follow and understand why they must be followed. Security controls for BYOD and corporate-owned devices should be in step. UEM makes it simple to manage corporate data (and even wipe it) on personal devices without infringing on the user’s privacy.

Tip #7: Regular updates
Hackers target vulnerabilities in operating systems, and installing updates helps close those holes and protect patient data. UEM enables you to update systems on a regular basis for your entire fleet of users quickly and easily.

Tip #8: End-of-life/Disposal
With strict regulations around ePHI and HIPAA, it’s recommended that devices should be destroyed at their end of use instead of just wiping or purging the info and recycling the device.

It’s really just common sense when it comes to protecting your mobile devices. Treating mobile security with the same rigorous standards that you treat other sensitive forms of communication will help you avoid HIPAA violations and costly data breaches.

Healthcare mobility specialists

Stratix has extensive expertise securing mobile devices in healthcare. We can help you develop comprehensive mobility strategies that enable you to get the most out of your mobility investment. Our team can help you throughout your UEM journey — from choosing the right solution for your organization’s needs through implementation and enrollment to support, we can help relieve your mobility headaches.