How secure mobile technologies can enhance patient care
By Michael Dyson, Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand
Thursday, 23 April, 2020
As technology has advanced, the healthcare system in Australia has come to rely more heavily on mobile devices to support critical patient-care tasks. Advances in technology have occurred in medical equipment, but also in devices that assist with collecting and updating patient data for the purposes of ongoing care, research and more.
The rapid growth of mobile technologies in the healthcare sector, and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) across organisations, has brought numerous risks and challenges. In the new world of the IoT, health care will see billions of new devices and endpoints in use, containing a diverse range of features, connections, standards and protocols. Some of these devices may be simple, such as touchless or smart thermometers, and their security risks low. However, for some devices that carry sensitive patient data, healthcare providers will need to take steps to ensure they have the necessary security protocols and systems in place.
If these devices are improperly managed and left unsecure, that leaves multiple open endpoints that can be exploited by a cyber attack.
Tech-savvy healthcare providers positioned to deliver quality service
In critical healthcare environments, there are countless time-consuming demands that are placed on workers. From admitting patients, to managing medication and medical records, there are many tasks that put a strain on a healthcare professional’s ability to work efficiently and provide a high level of care.
There are numerous advantages to implementing mobile technology to healthcare service processes. Providing healthcare staff with the latest mobile technology enables workers to monitor, document and communicate with simplicity and precision, delivering accurate and more efficient patient care.
According to global technology solutions provider Honeywell, over 38% of healthcare providers believe that quick and convenient service to patients is a top priority. Physicians themselves spend an average of 43% of their time on data entry, but only 28% of their time on direct patient contact.1 With the proper integration of digital technologies, healthcare facilities will in turn be able to deliver high-quality service to all patients with a greater rate of accuracy.
Mobile technology makes it easier for healthcare providers to manage patient data and automate workflows to reduce the risk of errors. For some healthcare providers, mobile devices help to ensure accurate medicine administration and specimen collection. For others, devices are used to speed patient admission, laboratory information and electronic health record systems. Having the right solutions in place can streamline error-prone tasks like patient identification, point-of-care medication delivery or collecting specimens.
Healthcare data at risk
While the benefits of adopting mobile technologies that enable workers to create efficiencies and support enhanced levels of patient care provide tangible benefits in the healthcare sector, the growth in the number of devices handling private patient information also presents data security risks.
The Victorian Government Cyber Incident Response Service has dealt with more than 600 cyber attacks since July 2018, and cybersecurity experts have previously warned that healthcare data is a growing target for hackers. Across Australia, there has been a rise in attacks on healthcare databases, with recent reports stating that a number of rural health services in Victoria’s north-east were forced to shut down their IT systems due to a malware virus. This is just the latest cyber scare in the state, following hospitals across Victoria previously being hit with a series of ransomware attacks. This forced some healthcare providers to go offline, showing an increasing pattern of vulnerability in health services in Australia.
Any growth in cyber attacks directed at the healthcare sector puts both the health and private information of many Australians at risk. A recent survey from SOTI showed that over 40% of Australians are not confident that their healthcare provider has the correct security measures in place for the mobile devices and technology used by healthcare workers. This lack of confidence should ring alarm bells.
Healthcare industry leaders must acknowledge that providing real-time services to workers in the field includes equipping them with connected mobile technologies that enable them to deliver consistent quality care to their patients.
A business-critical mobility solution that integrates all healthcare digital platforms and devices ensures that the entire system is running reliably and is secure. With the ability to be managed remotely, today’s advanced mobility solutions can lock down missing or compromised devices and can create user personas with different levels of security access. This means that the same device can be used by different employees on different shifts, giving them access to the specific level of information they need for their role without creating any unnecessary security risks.
Integration of mobile technology paves the way for modern healthcare services
The implementation of mobility is creating workflow efficiencies and enhancing patient care in the Australian healthcare sector. However, the growth in the number of mobile devices used in health care does not come without security risks. As healthcare providers become more reliant on digital systems and data, they must always ensure the security and availability of this information to protect the quality of health care in Australia.
1. Honeywell eBook: Welcome to the patient care revolution (2019).
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