Data encryption solution shows promise for mHealth apps

A data encryption solution for mHealth apps, called DE4MHA, has successfully demonstrated that it can safely obtain health information with the data carried securely, according to an article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

In order to evaluate and validate the DE4MHA data encryption solution for mHealth apps, two studies were performed. The first one studied and compared symmetric and asymmetric encryption/decryption algorithms in an mHealth app under a cooperation environment. The second study conducted a performance evaluation of the DE4MHA.

Over five days, 35 users that were randomly selected agreed to use and experiment with SapoFit app, an mHealth system for dietetic monitoring and assessment, using seven mobile devices.

The results showed that confidentiality and protection of the users' health information was guaranteed and SapoFit users were able to use the mHealth app with satisfactory quality. Results also showed that the app with the DE4MHA presented nearly the same results as the app without the DE4MHA.

The authors conclude that although it was experimented on a specific app, SapoFit, both DE4MHA and the cooperation strategy can be deployed in other mHealth apps.

"These security mechanisms did not deteriorate the overall network performance and the app, maintaining similar performance levels as without the encryption," states the article. "More importantly, it offers a robust and reliable increase of privacy, confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of their health information."

In a recent study, nearly 89 percent of U.S. healthcare workers were found to use their personal smartphones for work purposes. However, when it comes to security, the study found that 41 percent of healthcare employees' personal devices are not password protected, and that 53 percent of healthcare employees access unsecured WiFi networks with their smartphones.

Moreover, only 52 percent reported that they have Bluetooth discoverable mode disabled on their smartphones. The study states that "when a Bluetooth device is discoverable, it is very easy to scan for it using a PC and download private data."

To learn more:
- read the JMIR article