As mentioned in a prior post, securing the privacy of patient information is critical to the adoption, use and growth of telemedicine, and even more so, mobile health care (mHealth).
Innovation and technological enhancements are often cool but should not come at the expense of having people feel uncomfortable that their private health information is an open book for everyone to read.
In 2011, I expect mHealth to be prominent in the news, on the web, at events - even in use by doctors and medical institutions! Mobility has become one of the few areas not affected by the past couple of years of economic turmoil.
Today, nearly 50 percent of mobile phones sold are smartphones and the recent introduction of tablet devices, like the Apple iPad, invite innovation and new applications, especially for mHealth.
The mHealth App market will continue growing to meet physician demands for mobile access to clinical information and help improve operations as government health care reforms are enacted.
And companies that have one eye looking to support health care initiatives - the other eye focused on adding revenue to the bottom line -- are stepping up efforts to ensure that security and privacy is strongly embedded into every product and service they offer.
Hey, if they can decrease overall health care costs and raise the quality of service, then more power to them. A recent report projects mHealth in the enterprise will topple the $1.5 billion mark by the end of 2014.
Companies across the health care ecosystem - from hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices, to data centers, to internet and communications companies that transport the information - all have security built into their systems and networks.
The encryption algorithms may differ among each, but all are monitored and managed with layers of security to protect patient information.
Consider a company that I spoke with and featured in a video from the mHealth summit - Diversinet - a small company serving the health care food chain. Its tag line is, "Connected and Protected," and its service is based on a patented technology that provides ultra-secure mHealth applications to protect personal health information stored and exchanged on nearly all kinds of mobile devices.
This same doggedness runs the gamut for most companies involved in supporting mHealth - from those providing systems and platforms to others that develop applications and devices used to remotely monitor patients' wellbeing.
All must adhere to government regulations in order to be compliant across several areas, with the most obvious being security.
These are different than those I categorize as "fun" health applications. You know the apps that tell you that you shouldn't have dessert or you might want to do a few sit-ups. While it's not something that needs to be secure, I would like to keep it between me and my phone.
Have a safe and healthy week.
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