Mobile Devices, both a Boon and a Bane for HospitalsSeptember 01, 2016
The use of mobile devices in the medical field provides many benefits to hospitals, but new research suggests that the increased use of mobile devices in hospitals increases the impending risk of cyber threats.
According to the Point on Care Communications for Nursing 2016 study conducted by Health IT market intelligence firm Spyglass Consulting Group, mobile communication was viewed as an “emerging investment priority” by nearly 75 percent of the hospitals surveyed. More than a third of hospitals already changed their communication to smartphone-based communication for doctors and nurses, and more than half made the smartphone communication platform available to nonclinical hospital workers like security, housekeeping, nursing support staff, and others.
According to Gregg Malkary, founder and managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group, "In the past, hospitals didn't make investments like this for nurses." He also added that "Now, there's a compelling ROI (Return of Investment) not only for deploying for nursing, but for all mobile hospital workers."
Malkary said that mobile devices help medical personnel communicate with each other more efficiently than the traditional communication systems. It can also be linked to medical devices so hospital employees will be alerted by a notification if there are changes on a patient’s condition. It can also be used for patient data collection and hold Electronic Medical Record (EMR) for a more accessible record keeping method.
Spyglass Consulting Group added that investments for the hospital’s very own mobile communications technology can lessen the risk that is posed when employees use their personal mobile devices that may be with minimal or lacking with adequate protection that makes them unsecure and open to cyber-attacks.
However, 28 percent of hospitals surveyed are concerned that their own mobile communications technology is still susceptible to cyber threats. Such trepidation can be substantiated with the fact that about 25 percent of problems associated with cybersecurity originate from mobile phone, according to Spyglass Consulting Group.
"Despite increased investments in mobile device management solutions and secure text messaging solutions, cybercriminals have become more sophisticated and knowledgeable about the capabilities and vulnerabilities of existing security products and the strategies and tools used by hospital IT to detect a potential intrusion," Malkary said.
According to Spyglass Consulting Group, if the hospital is found at fault for a breach of patient health information, it will be fined up to approximately $1.5 million per incident and may damage the hospital’s reputation if more than 500 records are exposed.
Mobile devices linked to medical devices like ventilators, infusion pumps, and patent monitors through middleware are also vulnerable to cyber threats.
“Every time the data is in the clear, there are vulnerabilities and a hacker can get in—not only to the infrastructure but to biomedical devices as well.” Malkary said, “If I can control the device, I could be able to reprogram, say, an IV pump.” He also added that despite these vulnerabilities, hospitals are still following the trend toward mobile communication technology and some even allow their employees to use their personal mobile devices at work.
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