How Mobile Containerization Can Simplify and Improve Patient Care

Paul McRae
Paul McRae

Guest post by Paul McRae, director of business development, healthcare, AirWatch by VMware.

The evolution of mHealth has caused a dramatic increase in the use of mobile devices across the healthcare landscape. Mobile innovations are now positioned to vastly improve both the quality and quantity of the lives of human beings. New technologies and applications are helping organizations lower costs and provide higher quality service to patients. Mobile deployments in the healthcare industry enable clinicians and healthcare IT professionals to access medical records, diagnose illness, integrate with existing providers, enhance patient engagement and improve EHR interoperability.

As EHRs and the growth of deployed mobile devices and apps become increasingly popular, the need for mobility management and security is paramount. To embrace mobility, healthcare organizations must provide secure, easily accessible apps for staff and IT departments must manage devices while remaining HIPAA compliant and protecting patient records.

Enter containerization, an emerging class of management tools that carve out a separate, encrypted zone on the user’s smartphone within which corporate apps and data can reside. Policy controls apply only to what’s in the container, rather than to the entire device.  Mobile containerization offers a way for hospitals to securely deliver apps and data to clinicians without interfering with the users’ ability to access their personal content.

Currently, the end user is divided into two separate personas – the personal and the corporate. Duality provides two different levels of security for very different forms of information present on a device. For example, the corporate security measures might require compliance with federal or HIPAA regulations, a form of monitoring that would be seen as invasive to employee privacy.

Mobile platforms are beginning to integrate containerization into their frameworks, which allows for more secure and tighter amalgamations of data with their corresponding operating systems. OEM’s are placing containers for work use with the underlying OS for greater efficiency, better feature support and improved user transparency. This embedded form of containerization allows IT to maintain consistent security policies to mitigate threats on every mobile device, from smartphones and tablets to laptops, peripheral devices and emerging machine to machine (M2M) technologies.

Containerization allows healthcare organizations to remain compliant with the stringent security requirements they must meet, while providing employees a consistent user experience across multiple platforms. However, each mobile operating system presents its own security challenges, such as Web-based malware or the ability to download apps outside of designated app stores. Securing corporate information that has been accessed on personal devices from applications and content repositories remains a major challenge, especially to ensure data loss prevention (DLP) if the device is stolen or the employee leaves the organization.

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Thoughts and Images from HIMSS14 Day 2

Day 2 at HIMSS14 was much the same as day 1: Lots of walking, talking and great meetings with great organizations. I can’t thank enough vendors like Verisk Health, Omnicell, Amazing Charts and SAS for the great information they’ve shared, and for the perspectives about the market, trends and what’s ahead (and what’s behind).

Electronic health records are now foundational, and in many cases, they’ve lost their sex appeal. Though there’s an obvious and huge presence by them here, this year’s HIMSS doesn’t seem to have the same energy around the technology, from my point-of-view, that they did two or three years ago, for obvious reasons. Though their importance is still great, as we all know, other issues are taking center stage. ICD-10 is the obvious elephant in the room.

“Risk” is the biggest buzz word I’ve heard here in Orlando. I’ve heard it dozens of times. “Patient engagement” seems overcooked, according to those I’ve spoken to; an aspirational concept, yes, but actionable in an an entirely different story. Lofty goals and strategy, fewer practical best practices approaches for proceeding.

Patient engagement has only just begun, or at least is just developing past its infancy, and I look forward to seeing how it matures as a concept. Remember, just a couple years ago, those with vested interest claim patient portals would solve the ever elusive patient engagement issue. Portals clearly have not done so. Why would they? I remain skeptical that the actual patient is at the heart of this conversation rather how a systems can implement “best practices.” We’ll see, I suppose.

That said, HIMSS14 remains a wonderful experience and I’m glad to be here and meeting some wonderful people. I look forward to what today brings. Likely, more walking!

Here are some images I captured from Day 2.

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