Risk management, security strategies key to current mHealth acceptance

Providers and care support teams are just as wary as patients of mHealth security and privacy, according to a risk management and patient safety specialist.

The prime reason is the ever-changing technological evolution of such devices, Allan Ridings, senior risk management and patient safety specialist at the Cooperative of American Physicians (CAP), told FierceMobileHealthcare in an email interview.

"In addition, our aging population often has a distrust of technology and they have a traditional comfort level and preference for a face-to-face encounter," Ridings (pictured) said. However, he noted that a higher technology comfort level will come into play as younger, and more technically savvy users embrace and demand mobile health tools.

While full mHealth acceptance will arrive as the user demographic changes, there are strategies caregivers and providers can deploy in anticipation, according to Ridings.

"All physicians and office managers should preform periodic risk assessments to ensure that their office, their equipment and their mobile services are being security and quality assessed," he said. "As rules and regulations change often, so should your risk assessment; one must keep a record of when each assessment was performed, what vulnerabilities were uncovered, and what steps have been addressed for compliancy and safety."

Taking such proactive steps will help thwart potential lawsuits that come with new technology, Ridings added, noting that liability and legal burden are growing parts of medical practice costs facing physicians.

"Having a risk management open door policy can identify and assess threats, offer action items, put plans in place in case things do go wrong, and decide how to avoid additional risks," he said. "Risk management may assist physicians to stay on top of ever changing patient demands; industry litigation trends, and industry consolidations."

By launching risk and security practices, physicians will have an opportunity to catch up with payers already prepping for mHealth challenges. Those two segments, along with the future savvy patient population, will truly foster mHealth innovation and trust levels, according to Ridings.

"Patients place their trust in a physician, their knowledge, training, and adoption of trusted technology that works, not in a health insurance company," he said.

That aligns with the opinion of a clinical leader who believes mHealth success is tied to physicians being comfortable and educated on such tools so they can help educate patients.

But as a recent study noted, fostering mHealth adoption among the older and chronically ill is going to require strategic efforts by developers and device makers.

"Patients demand a hands on touch, they request a feeling of someone who cares for them," Ridings said. "The drivers of mHealth must be physicians, their specialty boards, state medical associations, state medical boards and the technology--to partner and foster a safe, efficient, regulatory compliant affordable technically-savvy healthcare system for all."