Tips for Using Mobile Devices Securely

by David Bucciferro.  With more healthcare providers using mobile devices in their work, the issue of how to protect Patient Health Information (PHI) is a major concern. These portable tools, such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets, offer a measure of freedom for providers, but also carry some major risks, as they’re likely to be more vulnerable to loss, theft, viruses and other damage.   

 To address these risks, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced a new initiative called “Mobile Devices: Know the RISKS. Take the STEPS. PROTECT and SECURE Health Information.”  The initiative was introduced during the annual meeting of the ONC (The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology), and consists of resources such as videos, easy-to-download fact sheets, and posters with information and tips on how to safeguard client data.

As a web-based, HIPAA-compliant electronic health record, AWARDS software instantly eliminates the danger of losing sensitive information about clients on a lost or broken laptop/tablet/phone, because no data ever resides on the device—none at all. Still, there were other tips shared that resonated with me, the top tips listed here:

  • Lock access to your device with a password or other user authentication method
  • Install and enable encryption as well as a firewall
  • Install and activate remote wiping and/or remote disabling
  • Install and update security software

For more information, visit the initiative’s website:  www.HealthIT.gov/mobiledevices.