Why healthcare is slow to go mobile

With the quick advancement of remote access technologies showing no end in sight, it's time for healthcare organizations to get on board the mobile technology train or risk getting run over, iHealthBeat reported.

Yet privacy concerns over sharing and accessing sensitive data from remote locations has made healthcare slower than other industries in securing the paths used to access that data.

In fact, a recent HealthcareInfoSecurity survey of about 200 healthcare CIOs, IT directors, CISOs and other senior-level employees found 58 percent allow bring-your-own-device (BYOD) but only 46 percent encrypt data stored or accessed on those devices, iHealthBeat noted.

Such security issues have been a leading cause for the healthcare industry's slow adoption of cloud technology as well, according to a February survey by technology vendor CDW. Out of eight industries, healthcare ranked seventh in terms of cloud adoption, just ahead of state and local governments, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

But despite security concerns and data breaches, healthcare workers can safely access sensitive information remotely from their laptops, smartphones or tablets, according to iHealthBeat. The key is establishing proper security mechanisms to protect data and properly educating employees on critical policies.

Moreover, important data that hospital staff need to access at off-site locations can be stored centrally and accessed remotely, eliminating concerns about lost or stolen devices. To correctly use virtual private networks (VPNs) and safeguard private patient information when a device is lost or stolen, make sure the device uses a secure VPN or encrypts the data it contains, noted iHealthBeat.

Tightening mobile security at hospitals and speeding up the adoption of remote access technologies boils down to leadership buy-in, not IT dollars, according to the HealthcareInfoSecurity survey.

"I believe that the leadership commitment is, in many ways, more important  than the absolute amount of money that you're spending on  it," Bill Spooner, CIO at San Diego's Sharp Healthcare said in the survey. "For certain, you have to have tools to monitor, track, ensure that you're having good security. But I'm not sure that another X number of dollars makes your security that much better  as compared to commitment from leadership that security is important," he said.

For more:
- here's the iHealthBeat article
- check out the HealthcareInfoSecurity survey (.pdf)