Effectively introducing new technologies into a healthcare organization can be a balancing act. It requires that devices be seamlessly integrated into the hectic lives of doctors, nurses, and other staff, or else your efforts could hinder the quality of patient care. Yet, the devices must also be secure enough to protect sensitive patient data from hackers. While this may feel overwhelming, there are best practices healthcare organizations can follow to ensure the success of their mobile device management (MDM) initiatives.
In no other industry are both the risks and rewards of an MDM program so high. With patient care on the line, mobile devices are necessary to help doctors and healthcare staff treat more patients more effectively and, let’s face it, potentially save lives. In this setting, efficiency really can be a matter of life or death.
But unlike other industries, healthcare isn’t only subject to the usual security concerns, but also electronic health records (EHRs) rules, HIPAA, and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), too. All contain strict provisions for protecting patient privacy, as well as costly penalties for noncompliance. This is a challenge, of course, but not an impossibility. By following these tips, providers can enjoy the benefits of being more connected while limiting the dangers.
Curb IT Intervention
Ensure that your staff is able to work with the device vendor or distributor directly from the time they initially boot up throughout the enrollment process. End users should drive the process themselves with their usernames and passwords, downloading configurations, updates, and enrolling in your MDM program automatically. Overworked IT departments usually can’t take on all the extra demands of a mobile device rollout. Luckily, the automation exists to execute rollouts without unnecessarily taxing internal resources.
Remember Your Audience
Never forget who will be using the devices and the circumstances in which they’ll be doing so. This is especially important in a healthcare setting, where each second counts. Remember that your staff’s gloved hands and masked faces make typical security features like fingerprint readers and facial recognition more cumbersome. Look for tools that speed the unlock process, ideally without the use of passwords, which can be easily stolen. Iris scans are a good option, as is biometric authentication using standards such as Fast Identity Online, both of which make login and use fast, simple, and secure. The best MDM programs keep improved workflows and efficiency at the heart of their efforts.
Security, Security, Security
In the event that passwords must be used, ensure your staff chooses strong ones, as weak passwords lead to most data breaches. Devices should automatically lock after a short time of inactivity, and users should be required to periodically re-authenticate. You may also decide to avoid storing data on devices. When data is stored on a server and served to an encrypted device, this is a much more secure scenario. Anti-malware and anti-virus security programs should also be installed and software firewalls put in place for each device.
Configure Device Features
Ensure that your configuration drives users to an authorized corporate app store, and that it blocks the download and installation of all applications that cannot be used for policy or security purposes. Being stringent about this will aid HIPAA compliance and limit exposure to malware and viruses, as well. Device configurations should also include regular software check-ins and updates for apps and operating systems, device unlock authentication controls, and remote device wipe capabilities. If a device is lost or stolen, the ability to remotely wipe the device is essential. Some companies even choose to remotely wipe corporate data from a device when it travels outside of a set geographic area.
Tackle Endpoint Security
Built-in containerism helps keep personal communications and work separate. Consider either mandating a device that has this feature, or adding on an endpoint security solution that enables such separation and ensures that it’s clearly communicated and strictly required in your MDM policy.
A properly managed, mobile-connected workforce allows medical staff to enjoy greater productivity and provide better patient care to more people in need. Despite the risks, healthcare executives must move forward with MDM strategies. Luckily, early adopters have illuminated a clearer path forward. According to a Spok survey, two-thirds of hospitals now have mobile device strategies, giving us plenty of examples and data points to pull from. Yes, it is a balancing act, but by following these proven tips, a successful rollout is easier to attain than ever before.