AT&T to secure tablets for health professionals

Stepping into what it sees as a gap in the mobile device management market, AT&T has launched a new tablet-specific management service for healthcare, AT&T Managed Tablets. The product provides network access and security controls for tablets, as well as remote wiping, the company said yesterday.

The big question: Why just tablets? With companies like MobileIron and Voalte Connect offering multi-device management services, what is the competitive advantage of having a single-device product? According to some, the move allows AT&T to wedge its way into the market without having to create an entire MDM solution right away.

With tablets coming onto the scene so fast, and in such large numbers, hospital CIOs just might welcome a management option tailored to tablets' specific configuration and security vulnerabilities, Jacob Braun, president of health IT firm Waka Digital Corp., Amherst, Mass., told FierceMobileHealthcare.

Added Kerry Shackelford, healthcare services managing director for Louisville, Colo.-based security firm Coalfire Systems: "It's encouraging to see solutions such as AT&T's Managed Tablets out in the marketplace. Solutions such as these address the difficult issues we in audit and compliance see when we're out doing HIPAA assessments."

For CIOs, though, the product will need to be comprehensive, Braun said. He believes the manager will have to cover all tablet hardware, platforms, software, apps, and more, and be configured to protect against the particular security vulnerabilities of each. Plus, it will have to keep up with the dizzying speed of evolution in the tablet arena.

AT&T also launched a new text messaging management product along with the Tablet Manager. The new Global Smart Messaging Suite for Healthcare provides encryption for outbound messaging, "so patients can opt to receive highly secure healthcare communications, such as appointment reminders, payment notices and test results," officials said.

To learn more:
- read AT&T's press release