Intermountain CISO talks challenges, developments in mobile health security

Worries over data, device and system security often keep Intermountain Healthcare Chief Information Security Officer Karl West awake at night--but those challenges aren't stopping him or his orgnaization from creating and adopting mHealth tools.

"If we're going to embrace this mobile world," he said in an interview with mHealth News, "the way to do it is to find ways to enable, monitor, audit, control and put protections around the health data that is so vital."

West also spoke about the nearly six dozen mHealth efforts, including a watch that reminds employees to watch their hands, in play at Intermountain.

Another innovation underway at Intermountain is a mobile stress test, tied to hormone level measurement, which can be conducted on the fly with a smartphone, an app and a saliva sample for a fraction of current testing costs.

The security aspect in developing such mHealth tools should not stop providers from serving as enablers or become a barrier, West tells mHealth News.

"What we have to do is figure out how it will transform care, how it will help us help patients live healthy lives--so how can we do it in the most responsible way?" he said.

Security is one, if not the top, hurdle facing mHealth. The global healthcare industry is not keeping pace with mobile device security, citing unauthorized device use and data leaks as top security issues. Many mHealth tech vendors are wary of potential regulatory and compliance fines given outdated and confusing regulations pose a serious threat to innovation. 

At Intermountain, information researchers investigate and suggest new mHealth care technologies that, if endorsed, are further assessed and developed at its Healthcare Transformation Lab, according to West. The team is constantly reviewing what top tier mHealth device makers, such as Google and Apple, are developing, he said.

"We're not looking to create everything ourselves but, rather, to use technologies that exist and expand them where we see a great health benefit that might become available," he said.

For more information:
- read the mHealth News article

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