Could Increasing Use Of Mobile Medical Devices Lead To Stolen Patient Information? Not If A Bug Tag Is On A Tablet
We all know that mobile medical devices such as iPads and computer tablets are getting more and more use in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices and the medical field in general. We register as new patients on mobile devices at the front desk of a clinic, or we may be asked to complete medical histories on a nurse’s iPad. I was curious to know what the top uses of mobile devices actually is for doctors. According to a Wolters-Kluwer 2013 Physician Outlook Survey, the following were the mobile device uses by physicians (pg. 6):
Access to drug information (dosage calculators, side effects, interactions, etc.):72% smartphone (e.g. iPhone, Droid) 55% tablets (e.g. iPad, Kindle Fire)
Communication with nurses and other staff:44% smartphone 20% tablets
Access to medical research:43% smartphone 63% tablets
Access to evidence based clinical reference tools at the point of care with patients:42% smartphone 50% tablets
Communication with patients:33% smartphone 17% tabletsAccess to medical records/other patient data:17% smartphone 43% tablets
Access to information for reimbursement/billing purposes:12% smartphone 24% tablets
Other:9% smartphone 13% tablets
Did you notice the “access to medical records/other patient data” and “access to information for reimbursement/billing” categories? Tablets and iPads are used significantly for looking at information specific to patients. What happens in the event of a Tablet theft or iPad theft? What information may be accessible by a thief?
The answer is, you don’t know how much of a patient’s information may be stolen and used for stealing identities, credit information, addresses, prescriptions, etc. Medical tablet theft and Ipad theft are very real problems and put patients and their medical providers at risk. Using a Bug Tag on each device owned by the medical facility can prevent theft and potential HIPPA violations. The tag is an electronic article surveillance (EAS) anti-theft device. It is placed directly on a table or other device and can’t be removed without activating a built in alarm that screeches at 95 decibels, alerting staff to an attempted theft. Facilities also install EAS pedestals at entrances that can detect a Bug Tag. If a criminal tries to walk out with a device that is tagged (or if an employee forgets they have a device with them and they try to leave the building) the tag sets off the EAS pedestal alarm. Again, employees respond and can recover it before a tablet theft or iPad theft can take place. It is also important to know that the Bug Tag does come in a “3 alarm” version that activates a built in alarm in the tag if a person were to continue walking past the pedestals into a parking lot. This alarm prevents a thief from blending into a crowd and getting away unnoticed.
Going back to the 2013 Physician Outlook Survey, consider the information we are looking at, this data is four years old or more. As the popularity of the devices has increased with more apps available to doctors and nurses and the time and paperwork they save is realized, the numbers of devices in use are greater. This means the opportunity for iPad theft and Tablet theft is greater as well, making the security of them even more important today than it was in 2013. I know from my own recent visits to two local hospitals and a clinic in my area that mobile device use has become the norm in the medical profession. A close family member of mine was in an ICU unit and when doctors made their rounds individually and as a group most of the members had iPads or tablets. When I recently was at a local clinic I signed in on an iPad. My wife has signed in at a minute clinic on a mounted iPad. It is clear that the wave of the future is the move from paper to electronic records. Protecting this data is critical.
Improving efficiency in the medical field ultimately improves patient care and can drive down costs. In doing so, it is imperative that patient information is protected in the process by preventing iPad theft through the use of a Bug Tag.
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