The Department of Veterans Affairs has OK’d the use of iPads and iPhones in VA clinics, effective Oct. 1. The Apple Inc. devices join BlackBerry smartphones on the list of VA-approved mobile devices.
Initially, employees at VA clinics will use the iPad and iPhone solely to access encrypted email and view patient data. However, with the appropriate encryption and security controls, the devices may be used to store certain patient information, VA CIO Roger Baker told Healthcare Info Security. Such storage will be decided on an application-by-application basis, he added.
At the moment, the Apple devices aren’t certified to use encryption that complies with the Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2, which federal agencies are required to abide by. Baker said he is confident that Apple’s encryption technology is “sufficiently strong” enough for use in VA clinics, though.
As it happens, demand for using the iPad in health care is high, and VA employees are just the latest physicians, clinicians and residents clamoring for permission to use the devices. Given the agency’s history of innovation in the use of information technology — VA use of health care IT dates back decades — the adoption of tablets and smartphones is a logical step forward.