Mobile health data security focus of $10 million NSF research project

A $10 million National Science Foundation research project aims to shore up patient data security and user confidentiality when it comes to mobile health tools.

The five-year "Trustworthy Health and Wellness (THaW)" endeavor involves researchers across a spectrum of fields, including health policy, healthcare information technology and behavioral health, hailing from Dartmouth College, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Michigan and Vanderbilt University, according to an NSF announcement.

"This project tackles many of the fundamental computer science research challenges to providing trustworthy information systems for health and wellness, as sensitive information and health-related tasks are increasingly pushed into mobile devices and cloud-based services," David Kotz, a Dartmouth College professor of computer science, says in the announcement.

The NSF project research team is taking a holistic strategy for securing the data pathway by bringing resources and experts together to work on challenges in the field. The team will conduct research on health and wellness technology, and also will train new computer scientists by working with college and high school students. 

Data protection and security remain primary challenges as consumer and provider digital technoloy adoption increases. For instance, a paper recently published at the Journal of Medical Internet Research notes that while a majority of physician residents prefer texting to other hospital communication channels, more than two-thirds said they view paging systems as a more secure data-sharing approach.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence recently published a "how to" draft guide on how organizations can keep private and sensitive data stored on employees' mobile device secure.

For more information:
- read the NSF announcement