Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

January 2, 2013

HHS tools help providers protect personal health data


Mineral Wells Index

— By CHRIS AGEE

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently launched a service designed to help health providers protect patients’ personal health data from online security threats.

Offering educational tools, including videos, posters and fact sheets, the initiative was created to help medical professionals balance increased use of laptop computers, tablets and smart phones with the need to protect sensitive patient information.

“The use of mobile health technology holds great promise in improving health and health care, but the loss of health information can have a devastating impact on the trust that patients have in their providers,” said Joy Pritts, chief privacy officer of the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

Citing a survey indicating just 44 percent of clinics encrypt mobile devices, an HHS press release explained the importance of sharing the possible risks associated with using such technologies.

“We know that health care providers care deeply about patient trust and the importance of keeping health information secure and confidential,” said HHS Office for Civil Rights Director Leon Rodriguez. “This education effort and new online resource give health care providers common sense tools to help prevent their patients’ health information from falling into the wrong hands.”

In addition to the theft or loss of mobile devices, the HHS program also emphasizes the risks associated with downloading viruses or malware, which can also lead to the compromise of private data.

“Health care providers, administrators and their staffs must create a culture of privacy and security across their organizations to ensure the privacy and security of their patients’ protected health information,” Pritts added.

Anyone interested in learning more about the program, called, “Mobile Devices: Know the RISKS. Take the STEPS. PROTECT and SECURE Health Information,” can visit at www.healthit.gov/mobiledevices.