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Mobile Health, Legal Danger?

November 3, 2016

First of all ... what is Mobile Health?

 

Today, it’s really nothing. It doesn’t really exist. Sure patients can get reminders for upcoming visits, vaccinations, or keep track of prescriptions, refills, and interactions. But that’s not really Mobile Health; it’s just an extension of the “wallet” or “briefcase” like functions that a Mobile Phone and cloud based service can provide.

 

In that same realm, however, more and more health records and personal information is getting communicated from server to server. Recently, hundreds of patients were able to Google their health records because a physician used a transcription service located off-shore, and they stored their information in an unsecured cloud environment.

 

Mobile Health, where patients and physicians interact with health records and communicate findings, recommendations, and amend the Medical Record is coming faster than you can think. Shocking, I know, but today many physicians communicate about their patients, seeking the expertise, opinion, and collaboration of their colleagues.  Because smart phones are so versatile, so many in Healthcares use the phones to communicate, interact, and interface with patients.

 

All of this is a huge risk because even if a Smartphone is locked, it is not secure. And the communication of patient data over the data or text functionality of a device violates almost every standard Medical Information Privacy and Protection Protocol in existence.

 

One thing is for sure, however, is that there will be more confidential medical data and information communicated in 2016 than there was in 2015, and 2017 will see more growth in this form of transmission.

 

So what can be done?

 

Follow these steps to secure your Mobile Health Data and communication:

 

  1. Never use your Smartphone to text or SMS patient sensitive information to another party

  2. Never use your Smartphone to take pictures of patients to share with colleagues or for the medical record

  3. Never use Gmail, Outlook.com, or other cloud-based email service to exchange sensitive patient information

  4. Use only your clinic, hospital, or other official email for sensitive patient and health-related communication

  5. Or use a HIPAA compliant App or service to ensure all communication is secure

 

 

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