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Healthcare information security at a crossroads with endpoints

With an ever-increasing array of mobile devices available, healthcare IT pros must ensure healthcare information security at endpoints.

When I think of healthcare information security for endpoints in hospitals, my mind usually wanders to my own technological setup at home.

I've got a work laptop, personal laptop, TV streaming stick, smartphone and DVD player all connected to my wireless network. Sometimes visitors hook their phones into the wireless router, too. Maybe this situation sounds familiar to some of you.

It certainly wouldn't take much for, say, my kid to fool around with my streaming stick and download an HDTV app I didn't want him watching. That's an endpoint breach no parent wants to deal with.

It's also a breach that could happen with me managing only five access points at home. Multiply that by tens of thousands of devices and you get an idea of the mountain that IT pros have to climb to ensure healthcare information security.

Our cover story in the February issue of Pulse hits endpoint access head-on by looking at the risks coming down the road, mainly from the proliferation of mobile devices. Contributor Nicole Lewis talks to a pair of major health systems administrators about their approaches to endpoint security and how living under the shadow of potential HIPAA violations has the attention of health IT executives.

On a related note, news and features writer Shaun Sutner looks into healthcare information security for medical imaging systems. As Sutner writes in his story, the abundance of digitized medical images has increased worries within the industry about the security of protected health information contained in those pictures.

Changing gears, Pulse explores the issues of wearable health devices and how they are out of reach for some people who need them the most. For example, diabetes is a widespread disease in the U.S. whose sufferers can benefit from reminders from wearables, yet many of those same patients simply can't afford the devices -- or may not see the value in owning the gadget, news writer Kristen Lee reports.

Clearly, the ramifications are much higher for diseased patients compared to me and my entertainment options at home. If I don't add a digital video recorder to my wireless network, I won't truly suffer for it. But if someone has diabetes and can't be reminded about blood sugar levels, the situation goes beyond convenience.

Wearables will add a whole new level to healthcare information security in the future.

And wearables will add a whole new level to healthcare information security in the future. I'm not sure if each wearable device will serve as an access point into an EHR, but regardless, those devices will push more and more outside information into clinical systems. For healthcare IT executives, the onslaught continues.

How are you reviewing the security of new endpoints? Let me know by email at [email protected] or on Twitter: @Scott_HighTech.

Scott Wallask
Editorial Director, SearchHealthIT

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