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Health Officials Seeking More Secure Mobile Devices

March 14, 2012

Mobile devices, from smartphones to tablet computers, are increasingly used in hospitals and other health care settings. But regulators fear that manufacturers have not taken adequate steps to safeguard privacy and security with the technology.

To help seal those gaps, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched the Privacy & Security Mobile Device project. The initiative will be managed by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) Office of the Chief Privacy Officer and the HHS Office for Civil Rights.

The project also will work to develop case studies to help communicate to health care providers how to secure and protect health information when using mobile devices. An example of a provider use case scenario is the health care provider who is at home and on call, using a laptop to read a patient’s electronic medical record.

“The rationale behind this specific project is that the use of mobile devices in health care has skyrocketed in the last year,” said Joy Pritts, JD, chief privacy officer for ONC, in an interview. “The concern is that health information is some of the most sensitive information that there is.”

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