Managing Mobile Technology and HIPAA Regulations

index1All medical facilities understand the importance of securing patient information. HIPAA laws strictly control how a patient’s medical records can and cannot be used or shared. As technology makes accessing this data easier for medical practitioners it also increases the risk the data may be subjected to unauthorized access. It is critical that medical facilities take proper precautions to ensure the safety of patient data as mobile technology becomes more ingrained into the day-to-day functions of the practice. Today, Medtunnel is widely used to safely transfer documents,  requesting an appointment, submitting their insurance cards, or simply to ask a question – patients have a direct access to their practice anytime and all with hipaa compliant texting

Determine Who Truly Needs Mobile Access

One way to limit risk to patient data is ensuring that only those who truly require mobile technology have the access required to use it. Not every employee will need to use these devices and the ability to do so should be restricted accordingly. This will help limit the number of devices that are required in order to maintain a high quality standard of operation, and will limit the number of people who will have the ability to use them.

When establishing the standards regarding who may use these higher risk items it is wise to compare the risk to patient data to the possible procedural improvements having mobile access could provide. In some scenarios the improvement to current business processes will distinctly outweigh the potential risks as would be the case with physicians being able to more quickly serve patients as they can access critical patient data on the go. Other situations will not be so clear.

Securing the Mobile Equipment

One of the largest risks to patient data, and therefore to HIPPA compliance, is the physical security involving mobile equipment. As technology progresses, more can be done with devices that are indexhighly portable. This increased mobility increases the risk of theft as it is much harder to walk out with a patient file or a desktop computer than it is a laptop, tablet or smartphone. As personnel become more dependent on accessing information quickly through mobile devices the more they are often found in a workplace.

In order to combat this risk, it is critical that appropriate policies are put in place regarding the use of these devices. This can include policies regarding the proper use and storage of the devices such as requiring all mobile equipment be locked in a cabinet when not in use and that it be signed out when it is in use. It may also include additional precautions such as a tracking device being placed on the device or tracking software being required.