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The Value of Standardizing Mobile Devices in Your Healthcare Organization

Posted on February 10, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Before becoming a full time healthcare IT blogger, I worked doing system administration and top to bottom IT support (I am @techguy on Twitter after all). While that now seems like somewhat of a past life, it never ceases to amaze me how the lessons that applied to technology 10 years ago come around again 10 years later.

A great example of this is in the devices an organization purchases. I learned really early on in my technology career the importance of creating a standard set of products that we would support as an IT organization. This was true when ordering desktop computers, laptops, printers, and even servers. The benefits to doing so were incredible and most technology people understand the benefits.

You can create a standard image which you put on the device. If one device breaks you can easily swap it for a similar device or use parts from two broken down devices to make one that works. When someone calls for support, with a standard set of devices you can more easily provide them the support they need.

Another one of the unseen benefits of setting and sticking to a standard set of devices is you can then often leverage the vendor provided management tools for those devices instead of investing in an expensive third party solution. This can be really powerful for an organization since the device management software that’s available today has gotten really good.

What’s unfortunate is that the way mobile devices were rolled out in healthcare, many organizations forgot this important lesson and they’ve got a bit of a hodgepodge of devices in their organization. I encourage these organizations to get back to creating and sticking to a standard set of devices when purchasing mobile devices. No doubt you’ll get a little backlash from people who like to do their own thing, but the cost of providing support and maintenance for a potpourri of devices is just not worth it.

What’s been your organization’s mobile device strategy? Have you created and stuck to a standard device or do you have a mix of devices?

Fitbit Privacy or Lack Thereof – Exposing Sexual Activity of Its Users

Posted on September 13, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Well, privacy rears its ugly head in healthcare again. I don’t want to treat a person’s privacy lightly, but I must admit that I kind of had to laugh at the breach I’m about to tell you about. I think you’ll see why.

I first read about this privacy breach on this Techcrunch article (They originally found it on nextWeb). Here’s a quote from the Techcrunch article:

Yikes. Users of fitness and calorie tracker Fitbit may need to be more careful when creating a profile on the site. The sexual activity of many of the users of the company’s tracker and online platform can be found in Google Search results, meaning that these users’ profiles are public and searchable.

I’ve been a big fan of Fitbit and other devices like that which are trying to track a person’s health and fitness. I think there’s a real market for these devices, but this is a pretty ugly misstep for Fitbit. Although, a search for sexual activity and FitBit isn’t returning results any more. Here’s the Fitbit blog post which details the steps they’ve taken to secure their users profiles. Seems like a reasonable and a smart response to the privacy issue.

Before I go any farther, we should be clear that this isn’t a HIPAA violation. The patient put their information online and agreed to have that information out there. We could argue how much they really agreed to have their profile public, but I’m quite sure that Fitbit would be fine in a HIPAA lawsuit. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not taking the hit for poor decisions.

What can future healthcare app and device companies learn from the Privacy issues at Fitbit?

1. Default healthcare profiles to private. Allow the user to opt in to make it public. Some might want it public, but no company should assume it should be public. This isn’t Facebook.

2. Consider more granular privacy controls. I may want part of my profile public, but part private (ie. sexual activity in a fitness application).

3. Be aware of what you allow search engines to index. There’s a whole category of hackers called Google Hackers. They use Google to find sensitive information like the story above. It’s amazing the power of Google hacking.

Some suggestions to e-patients that put their health data online:

1. Be careful about what information you’re putting online.

2. Check out where the information you put online will be available. Is it private? Is it public? Is it partially public? Can search engines see it?

There’s little doubt that more and more healthcare information is going to be put online by patients. We’re going to see more and more privacy issues like the one mentioned above. This incident will do little to deter this trend. However, hopefully it can serve as a learning experience for Fitbit and other healthcare companies that are entering this new world of online health information.