I've never worked in the health care field, but I can imagine how tough it must be to be in compliance with HIPAA regulations and to keep all that sensitve information secure -- especially when doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel are communicating by smartphones or SMS.
I heard that Amcom Software's Amcom Mobile Connect encrypts messages sent to staff members' smartphones to ensure security for electronic protected health information, so I spoke with the company's Brenda Wurst to find out a little more about it. She told me:
The software provides a means to deliver messages to the appropriate person on the appropriate device, and we're able to provide delivery notification so you know exactly when the message was delivered to the device.
Of course, the information that's being shared usually includes details about specific patients. While it is important to be able to communicate in a timely manner with mobile devices, it is equally important that the information being shared is secure and private. The software encrypts the data between phones.
Starting initially with SMS messages, the encryption is done through our host system. From the time it leaves and to the time it is delivered, it is encrypted to ensure secure message delivery.
Despite the encryption and the ability to send messages safely and securely, the usual risks involved with smartphones still apply. Wurst said most of the devices are personally owned. And as we all know, phones get lost or misplaced or borrowed.
Unfortunately, Wurst said, the software application has not been password protected. Users need to get to the information quickly and having to enter a password can slow down response time. Some phone systems, such as BlackBerry, can have its memory wiped clean remotely, giving it an added layer of protection if lost.
Wurst said the ability to send critical messages to a variety of devices and to ensure they have the capability to provide security of the message is very important to health care organizations.
They can't block out patient names or identify information, so it's important for them to have encrypted message capability.