Motorola’s making news all over the place this week: First, it let a Google engineer demo a prototype Motorola tablet running a pre-release version of the next Android operating system, which probably will draw interest from its health care clients trying to figure out which tablet and which operating system to use in deploying mobile electronic health record (EHR) systems among doctors and nurses.
Then, through more formal channels it announced the MC-55A0-HC, a new model of its line of handheld health care scanner-communications-messaging devices it calls enterprise digital assistants (EDAs) or sometimes, mobile computers.
While it resembles other Motorola EDAs, the Wi-Fi-enabled versions of the new location-aware device also support geofencing. This feature sets boundaries for where the device will function: For example, when a thief (or unsuspecting user about to violate security policy) removes it from the hospital grounds, it can be logged off the network remotely and shut down. With new laws expanding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s penalties for data breaches and states’ attorneys general being given the green light to prosecute violators, the geofencing concept could gain traction among health IT leaders as a viable data security — and by extension, a HIPAA compliance — tool.
“It will read off the [global positioning system] a proscribed geographic location,” said Sheldon Safir, director of product marketing for Motorola Solutions. “The home office will say, ‘You can go within a circumference of 10 miles’ — or whatever — and if GPS recognizes that it’s more than 10 miles away, the system can send an alert back to the home office saying, ‘This device has gone rogue.’ They can shut it down or contact the carrier of that device, and if need be, lock it.”
This feature can be employed to stop data breaches in health care, Safir said. Other industries use geofencing too, such as transportation and logistics. “Management is much more interested in knowing where all of its assets are, including its employees. We’re seeing it become more and more important across all the vertical [markets we serve],” he said.