Advertorial: now that smartphones and tablets grow ever more popular, healthcare professionals are increasingly accustomed to using them for work purposes such as storage and sharing of patient information.
Although smartphones and tablets are being brought in by many NHS organisations, their basic security settings - especially in the light of patient confidentiality issues - are often inadequate. Given recent high profile data losses, the NHS cannot tolerate such vulnerability - so it is good news that secure ways to benefit from this new technology have now emerged.
Smartphones and tablets are becoming a key part of modern working life. Their adoption is being driven by users, as they see how these powerful devices can enhance their lives, both within the workplace and beyond. With a wide choice of devices available at affordable prices, smartphones
and tablets allow for increased responsiveness and productivity as well as improved decision making. They provide a new way of exchanging and updating critical data in real time.
Many NHS Trusts are starting to reap the benefits of mobile devices, as they begin to manage care activities and allow flexible working through smartphones and tablets. For example, community care professionals can access vital patient information in real time using mobile devices, so they can make better-informed decisions, deliver more patient visits, and spend longer with patients on each occasion. Evidence from mobile working pilots shows NHS Trusts could free up over an hour per day for each staff member, with the efficiency and productivity benefits clearly evident.
Along with the freedom and flexibility though, come security risks and management concerns. Most pressing of these concerns is the potential loss of data, the issue of sensitive information falling into the wrong hands, and threats to the internal network. In a recent IDC study* on enterprise mobility and security, senior IT professionals identified data and network security as their biggest challenge, with managing their mobile fleet second. Data breaches can mean lost revenue and the erosion of public confidence in the NHS. With the growth of cybercrime, recent high profile data losses and increasing regulation, these risks cannot be overlooked.
Every organisation adopting mobile technologies needs to control its employees’ devices - whether these are provided by the organisation or owned by the individual - to ensure that confidential information cannot fall into the wrong hands and that the the integrity of their networks stays protected. Finding the right balance between maintaining control, whilst making the most of the efficiency and productivity benefits of mobile technologies, is the key challenge.
So how can the NHS achieve this goal? By empowering Trusts to keep the freedom and flexibility of mobile technologies whilst retaining control and securing their network, data, and devices. This requires a uniform approach to device security measures across the entire Trust and at every level. Like desktops and laptops, smartphone and tablets require enterprise level security. Lose a smartphone or tablet, and the system administrator must be able to remotely lock or wipe the device at will. And with such protection and reassurance in place, the advantages of mobility and flexible working can start to be realised in full.
Mobile device security solutions should always be designed to work seamlessly with the existing IT environment of organisations adopting them. This allows control to be maintained, risks to be mitigated, whilst productivity gains are being realised. Such solutions should also support remote set-up and management of device fleets, including employees’ own devices, and should control workforce access to the internet, the in-house network and all other systems via a secure VPN. And for most networks in the NHS it goes without saying that only authorised, trusted parties can be allowed system access - in order to maintain the integrity of both the network, and the data it carries.
With an enterprise level security solution in place for their mobile device fleet, NHS organisations can look forward to gaining greater peace of mind and all round security and control. Mobile technologies now allow the NHS to really enjoy the best of both worlds - with significant cost savings and productivity gains along with network, device and data security to the required standard.
* Worldwide Mobile Enterprise Security Software 2012-2016 Forecast and Analysis
How Orange can help
Orange has been working closely with a number of NHS Trusts to understand their needs and deliver simple but effective solutions that help them work smarter, redesign services and reduce costs. Our portfolio of mobile working solutions technologies are designed to give clinicians more time to care and help the NHS grow more productive and efficient while saving time and cutting costs - now and in the future.
Our mobile device security solutions enable mobile working whilst providing peace of mind that confidential patient records are in safe hands. We can provide a platform-agnostic, easy to deploy, end-to-end security solution that is right for your - and even your employees’ - smart devices. If you’d like to know more about how Orange is working with the NHS to deliver strategic change along with immediate efficiencies, call 0800 037 2737, or visit www.orange.co.uk/health.
Kate Jack is Head of Public Sector and Health, Everything Everywhere