As the Mobile Health Expo 2010 gets underway next month, we’ll feature experts on the topic of mobile health. This week, VPN Haus interviews Dr. Ruchi Dass, mHealth champion and council member for the Gerson Lehrman Group, in a three-part series on mobile health. Dass has been involved in specific healthcare IT, e-learning and ICT projects for the public/private sector in India.
VPN Haus: What are the major trends you’re noticing in healthcare mobility?
Dr. Ruchi Dass: In a country like India where the doctor to patient ratio is 1:900, doctors are a few and work is 24/7. Patients demand low costs, and timely and quality healthcare coverage. For healthcare enterprises, patient data is critical to collect and manage. Hence [mobile] health is primarily aimed at bridging the economic divide in terms of healthcare. Mobility is the key here- many healthcare enterprises which are spread over 10-20 establishments in India are now using VPNs as the enabling technology which allows doctors to use standard public Internet ISPs and high-speed lines to access closed private networks. A simple use case for this is to access virtual patient health records and there are other wireless technologies designed specifically for use in the provision of healthcare, like:
- Standard mobile enterprise services used by health-care workers, such as remote access to e-mail and health-information systems;
- Mobile applications to meet a specific need of medical workers, such as mobile prescriptions and remote diagnoses;
- Applications that play a direct role in the provision of care, such as mobile data collection and wireless transmission of health data; and
- Consumer-targeted applications to encourage health and help prevent illness.
VPN Haus: What are the security concerns around these trends?
Dass: Security of patient data is important. Even if you comply with HIPAA, it doesn’t have that depth and breadth of protection, which is required as health care is comprised of exceedingly complex information environments that demand comprehensive patient data security approaches especially when the data is shared across networks. For a simple use case of accessing a patient’s Virtual Electronic Patient Records with a wireless device, there are 3 main security issues to address:
1. To Authenticate & authorize from the wireless to the wired network
2. Secure data share in transit
3. Integrity & good resolution in the information that is requested and visualized by the users/doctors.
Stay tuned, next week we’ll continue our conversation with Dass, discussing the most overrated and underrated mobile health security risks.