Healthcare facilities are treasure troves of extremely sensitive information. Responsible for insurance and billing information, medical records and more, the healthcare industry works tirelessly to keep data private and secure. This no longer entails strong locks on file cabinets. In the current age of digital transformation, more than 30 percent of physicians access their patients’ electronic health records (EHR) or radiology reports through iPads1. Keeping this data secure requires strict Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance – fortunately, iPad already satisfies this regulation.
iPad makes it very easy for healthcare organizations to maintain HIPAA compliance. These best practices and iPad security features will help when evaluating devices to use or examining the security posture of your healthcare environment.
1. Stronger Authentication Methods
HIPAA and other regulations call for authentication and robust identity management. Unfortunately, username and password combinations alone no longer do the job. iPad includes the following advanced functions that help implement multifactor authentication and a stronger overall security posture:
- Security tokens: Prove your identity with a physical device or app (Made for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad – MFi)
- iOS Keychain: Securely store passwords, login tokens and so on, and determine which Keychain items each process or app can access with the securityd daemon
- Digital certificates: Store information about a public key ownership, information about an owner’s identity, and the entity’s digital signature in one electronic document
- Biometrics: Use behavioral characteristics, such as fingerprints with Touch ID or retinal scans, to sign in
2. Encryption and Data Protection
All iOS devices have Unique IDs (UID), which enable data to be cryptographically tied to each device. Even when memory chips are transferred among devices, files remain inaccessible. Apple also incorporates Data Protection – an extra layer of protection for data stored in flash memory on the iPad – into its operating systems. This protection covers all pre-installed and third-party apps on iOS 7 or later.
Data Protection works for apps, too. The iOS Software Development Kit (SDK) offers a full suite of APIs that enable third-party and in-house developers to adopt Data Protection and ensure the highest level of protection for their apps.
3. Role-based Access Control (RBAC)
There is rarely a reason for healthcare staff members to require access to an entire patient database. Even without malicious intent, global access can be a liability. RBAC not only satisfies HIPAA requirements, but also enhances efficiency since staff members have access to only the information they need without having to sift through irrelevant data.
The Security Rule under HIPAA was designed to protect the privacy of individuals’ health information, while giving healthcare facilities the ability to adopt new technologies that improve the quality and efficiency of patient care. The iPad does just that. It helps maintain the security of sensitive data while driving better provider and patient experiences through convenience and innovation.
How else do you keep your healthcare data secure? Are there other regulations the Apple iPad helps you keep in compliance with? Let us know in the comments below.
1: Rebecca Kennis, Clinical Systems Analyst, United Health Services