Mobile technology is everywhere in modern medicine. More than 4 out of 5 physicians own a smartphone and use a variety of portable digital devices to access pharmaceutical data, connect with electronic health records (EHRs) and share lab results with consulting specialists.
Portable EHR and connected technology enable physicians to check their office schedule from anywhere, and approve discharge orders at the bedside, in the office, or wherever there is a wireless connection. As the pressure to maximize efficiency and performance builds, healthcare providers of all sizes increasingly rely on mobile technology to improve the patient experience and organizational outcomes, without compromising data security.
Mobile Technology Pros and Cons
Advances in digital communications, electronic data aggregation and knowledge-based software empower physicians to make better diagnosing and treatment decisions in ways that weren’t possible even just a few years ago. At the same time, it empowers patients to play a more proactive role in their personal care, and benefit from remote treatment and monitoring options that minimize disruptions to day-to-day life.
But with the advantages, come the added challenges of protecting wireless networks that have multiple points of access from a range of portable and on-premise devices including smartphones, tablets, patient- and clinician-controlled medical devices, and laptop and desktop computers. This requires wireless network solutions that have the reliability and performance to ensure uninterrupted, high quality care without risking the security of valuable, confidential patient and operations data.
What to Look For in a Wireless Network Solution
In an age when healthcare providers are at a heightened risk of breach—from both malicious actors and human error—it’s vital to consider wireless network technologies with proven capabilities for balancing performance and network protection.
Here are five capabilities healthcare providers need to look for when evaluating wireless network solutions:
- Self-service onboarding applications that enable rigorous virus scanning and device inspection and keep devices off-network until thoroughly screened for potential threats. Look for solutions with customization options for access control, such as guest portal features that approve guest access via branded ports.
- Application control features with the capacity to throttle low-priority applications when bandwidth is limited to minimize performance disruptions. Priority management is essential for achieving continuity of care within a secure environment.
- Real-time threat protection updates to ensure continuous protection as soon as new viruses and malware threats are identified. Look for systems that are HIPAA-certified and capable of identifying and isolating suspicious activities, malware and unauthorized access attempts from internal and external threats.
- Web URL filtering to block access to websites that may contain malware or create an exposure to pharming/phishing attacks. Capabilities also enable administrators to control ambient noise from games or videos that may offend or disturb patients and visitors.
- Consolidated management features that put policy control in the hands of administrators. Providers decide whether to enforce a single set of compliance policies for both wired and wireless networks or establish different protocols for different stakeholders. Single-pane monitoring saves time and improves oversight, allowing administrators to quickly spot gaps in security and take corrective action.
Balancing performance with security is critical in healthcare environments under constant threat of cyber attack—where clinicians are required to do more in less time, and where patients demand easier wireless access to personal records and greater control of their own care.
Xiologix is a network security services provider that leverages top-tier technologies to provide cost-effective, best-in-class IT security solutions tailored to healthcare organizations’ unique wireless network requirements.