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ONC offers guidance on mobile-device security


By Joseph Conn
Posted: December 12, 2012 - 3:30 pm ET
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Hospitals or physicians handling health information on a smartphone, tablet or other mobile computing device—or that are exploring ways for their organizations to do so—can get some much-needed advice on information security from the federal government.

HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology launched a mobile-security education initiative Wednesday, featuring a Web page, www.HealthIT.gov/mobiledevices, where providers and healthcare organizations can find several training videos about keeping protected health information secure on mobile devices.

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Shipments of smartphones and tablets are soaring. One analyst predicts they will outstrip the shipments of desktop and laptop computers.

Meanwhile, the security risks that laptops and other portable devices pose to healthcare organizations are well-known.

Since September 2009, the Office for Civil Rights at HHS, which enforces the privacy and security rules under HIPAA, has kept a growing list of healthcare information data breaches involving the records of 500 or more individuals.

Lost or stolen laptops account for 127, or roughly 25%, of the 511 breaches on the civil rights office's list and involve the records of nearly 2.3 million individuals. Eighty breaches, accounting for about 16% of those on the OCR list, are attributed to "other portable electronic devices."


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