Smartphones may increase risk of health data breaches

February 1, 2012

A survey of 72 health organizations found that the growth of physician use of smartphones also has increased the incidence of data breaches, with 96% of respondents experiencing at least 1 data breach in the past 2 years.

A survey of 72 health organizations found that the growth in physician use of smartphones also has increased the incidence of data breaches, with 96% of respondents experiencing at least 1 data breach in the past 2 years.

According to Larry Ponemon, chairman of the Ponemon Institute, which conducted the survey, mobile devices create a security risk in 2 ways: Data residing on the device can be accessed directly, and data that reside on electronic medical record (EMR) systems at healthcare organizations can be accessed through the device. So whether a device is lost or stolen, valuable data can be obtained if the phone is not secured.

Although 49% of hospital systems have not yet taken steps to protect patient data contained on mobile devices, physicians can use currently available software to ensure that their phones are encrypted and their practice can set policies on mobile phone use, paying particular attention to security measures, such as using antivirus software and password protection.

Dolan PL. Smartphones blamed for increasing risk of health data breaches. American Medical News. http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/12/19/bil21219.htm. Accessed January 25, 2011.