Thursday, September 09, 2010

Security and Privacy in #mHealth (SMS, e-mail, etc.)

Today is the last day of the 2nd International mHealth Networking Conference. As a physician champion for the HCPLive Network, I'm excited to blog about some of the highlights from this meeting. You can also follow updates about the mHealth Networking Conference on

This morning, I attended a discussion about security and privacy in the world of mobile health. The speakers were Claudia Tessier, mHealth Initiative, and Patrick Enright, Sybase 365. The discussion initially focused around SMS, e-mail, and data encryption. Everyone is using SMS. Patients like using e-mail because it's easy to use, but e-mail isn't secure. A secure patient portal may be cumbersome for some people to use. SMS can be used in the world of mHealth if patients have a secure SMS client on their devices that will allow them to access encrypted text messages after they enter a PIN.
So, what is the best way for patients to communicate with their physicians? Given that most physicians are not being reimbursed for their time corresponding with their patients electronically, many physicians are not eager to engage their patients online. We now have access to effective mobile communicating solutions that are secure for patient/provider communication. Some hospitals and providers are using these solutions but others are not. It's probably only a matter of time before we start hearing about more cases where patient security was compromised because patients or providers were using mHealth solutions that were not secure.

There are so many ways we can improve the efficiencies in the world of health care by leveraging mHealth solutions. Here at the International mHealth Networking Conference, there are a variety of exhibitors that focus on the use of secure mobile messaging in health care.

I want to thank Epocrates for sponsoring these blog posts from the 2nd International mHealth Networking Conference. Epocrates, Inc. develops clinical information and decision support tools that enable healthcare professionals to find answers more quickly and confidently at the point of care. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:47 PM

    My partner and I head two hospitalists groups in the Boston area, one acute care, the other a rehab hospital. For years our handoff communications went through paper mail or fax. We were very diligent about communication. Even so, specialist from acute care settings and primary care physicians in the community complained that our group was like a black box – that they were not getting good communication about the care we were providing. The hospital even setup a physician portal so that any on-staff doctor could log in remotely and access their patient’s information. But this “pull” model never caught on, as most doctors expect data to be “pushed” out to them.

    One of our new physicians suggested we look at Concentrica, which is an online network for secure clinical communication. This is free to physicians to communicate with each other. The national directory of physicians meant that we could quickly send to any physician, without having to know their fax or email. Like an online email system, recipients can reply and forward messages, so now we could get immediate feedback from colleagues in other locations, and in important cases, have a real dialog about patient care. The “Group Discussions” feature allows the specialist in town, the hospitalist, and the PCP to all join in an online dialog about one patient. The application works well on our smartphones.
    When our group wanted to send documents on our behalf, we upgraded to the subscription version, which cost less than paying someone in our office to fax the documents. There is an audit trail so we can see who received their messages. One feature we really liked was that if the message was not accessed online it was faxed, so we knew our clinical work was getting there.

    For our group it made it easy to communicate with other physicians, to get our documents out, gave a way for others to respond, and was cost effective.

    Arthur Williams, MD