To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of healthcare innovation at Intel are greatly exaggerated. Given that many of the world’s healthcare information systems run on Intel technologies, I would go so far as to say that it would be almost impossible for a company as large and as global as Intel not to be working on healthcare innovation, even if we wanted to stop. Yet, because of a birthday I will talk about in a second, there are sometimes perceptions out there that Intel has stopped all healthcare activities. We have changed how we are organized but have not stopped healthcare innovation!

And why would we?


Healthcare is poised to be one of the largest growth opportunities for computing over the next decade. It is already the largest sector of the global economy–and the largest percentage of GNP for almost every nation–even before Global Aging swells the ranks of retirees and reduces the rolls of doctors and nurses available to care for our swiftly aging planet. Globally, we spend more human capital on caring for our health than any other human endeavor. More than 25 countries have recently passed healthcare reform laws with many–like the U.S., China, and Australia to name a few–making massive investments in health IT to “future proof” their healthcare infrastructure for the 21st century. And as computing becomes more powerful, ubiquitous, affordable, connected, and secure, healthcare is finally becoming more automated and algorithmic, from medical devices and equipment to clinical systems running on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones to cloud-based and “big data” servers that enable population analytics and genomics unimaginable even a couple of years ago. In short, the era of Personalized Medicine is upon us, and it will require a transformation of computing as we know it, even as we transform healthcare as we know it.


So why do I bring this up now?


This month marks the first birthday of Care Innovations, the Intel GE joint venture focused on personal health technologies and new care models for the home and community. It has been an amazing year watching Care Innovations launch new products, build its own culture, and move into great new offices near Sacramento, Portland, and New York City! As a small company that inherited great assets from our parent companies, Care Innovations also gained the freedom and responsibility to blaze our own trail. Led by former Intel VP, Louis Burns, Care Innovations is delivering telehealth, independent living, remote patient monitoring, and assistive technologies–and working with care providers around the country to transform their care models using these technologies. As the director of public policy for Care Innovations, I am proud to be part of this venture and will cover many policy issues about shifting care to the home in this blog in the coming months, particularly during this healthcare-contentious election year in the United States.


But I also serve as director of health innovation and policy for Intel, and I want to clear up any misconception about the status of other healthcare innovation efforts at Intel. A year into this, I sometimes am asked whether Intel has ended all other healthcare work and/or spun everything out with Care Innovations. While it is true that there is no longer a single, dedicated business unit at Intel focused on healthcare–what was formerly called the “Intel Digital Health Group” led by Louis Burns did spin out for the most part–there are still well over a dozen Intel teams globally driving a wide range of innovative projects. This website highlights many of the health IT related efforts we are focused on. And below is a sample of some of the activities currently happening at Intel–many of which I will be blogging about in the coming months:


- Intel sales and marketing experts continue to partner with healthcare organizations worldwide on the implementation of health IT, especially around cloud computing, security, and clinician mobility.
- Our Intelligent Systems Group continues to deliver Intel technologies into a wide range of medical customers and devices, from MRI machines to fitness equipment.
- The Intel “World Ahead” program just launched the “Skoool Healthcare Education” platform in Sri Lanka with a goal to help educate 1 million health workers by 2015.
- Various R&D groups inside Intel have explorations ranging from ubiquitous healthapplications on smart phones to the future of biosilicon and artificial organs.
- Intel architects and engineers have been invited in many countries to help design secure cloud architectures for EHRs, insurance exchanges, and regional health information networks.
- An Intel team is working on the challenge of delivering high performance computing to help usher in next generation genomics for personalized medicine.
- Our global public policy organization continues to work with governments worldwide on health innovation, from broadband plans to changing reimbursement models for virtual care.
- Our team of clinicians, social scientists, and engineers are working on next generation tablet designs for doctors and nurses, building upon the Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA) reference design.
- Intel recently helped to pilot a telemedicine network in rural Mexico that may well expand to the entire country to help connect patients and medical experts.
- We began work in China–and other countries–on the development of a blueprint on how to build “Age Friendly Cities” that use technology to drive better healthcare quality, access, & costs.
- Our social science team has been conducting ethnographic studies to inform the future of primary care/general practice using coordinated care teams and collaboration technologies.

And the list above continues to grow, not surprisingly, as so many countries and companies invest in the healthcare sector. Each quarter, I bring together Intel teams who are working in some way, shape, or form on healthcare innovation, and I continue to be amazed to find out where Intel’s people and our technologies touch as our compute continuum meets the care continuum from hospital to home.


So, a “Happy Birthday” goes out to our partner and sister company, Care Innovations! And to all of our Intel collaborators, customers, and colleagues out there, I add: “Healthcare innovation is alive and well at Intel!” Please be sure to continue to reach out to your Intel contacts to find out about the many amazing ways in which we are working on the future of healthcare. After all, Intel’s audacious corporate vision reads: “This decade we will create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person on earth.” If this decade is also the beginning of the era of personalized medicine, it follows that these two visions are well intertwined. There are many of us still painted “Intel blue” who are determined to deliver upon that vision for healthcare. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting business opportunity for our company; it’s hard to imagine a more important calling for our world

To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of healthcare innovation at Intel are greatly exaggerated. Given that many of the world's healthcare information systems run on Intel technologies, I would go so far as to say that it would be almost impossible for a company as large and as global as Intel not to be working on healthcare innovation, even if we wanted to stop. Yet, because of a birthday I will talk about in a second, there are sometimes perceptions out there that Intel has stopped all healthcare activities. We have changed how we are organized but have not stopped healthcare innovation! And why would we?

Healthcare is poised to be one of the largest growth opportunities for computing over the next decade. It is already the largest sector of the global economy--and the largest percentage of GNP for almost every nation--even before Global Aging swells the ranks of retirees and reduces the rolls of doctors and nurses available to care for our swiftly aging planet. Globally, we spend more human capital on caring for our health than any other human endeavor. More than 25 countries have recently passed healthcare reform laws with many--like the U.S., China, and Australia to name a few--making massive investments in health IT to "future proof" their healthcare infrastructure for the 21st century. And as computing becomes more powerful, ubiquitous, affordable, connected, and secure, healthcare is finally becoming more automated and algorithmic, from medical devices and equipment to clinical systems running on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones to cloud-based and "big data" servers that enable population analytics and genomics unimaginable even a couple of years ago. In short, the era of Personalized Medicine is upon us, and it will require a transformation of computing as we know it, even as we transform healthcare as we know it.

So why do I bring this up now?

This month marks the first birthday of Care Innovations, the Intel GE joint venture focused on personal health technologies and new care models for the home and community. It has been an amazing year watching Care Innovations launch new products, build its own culture, and move into great new offices near Sacramento, Portland, and New York City! As a small company that inherited great assets from our parent companies, Care Innovations also gained the freedom and responsibility to blaze our own trail. Led by former Intel VP, Louis Burns, Care Innovations is delivering telehealth, independent living, remote patient monitoring, and assistive technologies--and working with care providers around the country to transform their care models using these technologies. As the director of public policy for Care Innovations, I am proud to be part of this venture and will cover many policy issues about shifting care to the home in this blog in the coming months, particularly during this healthcare-contentious election year in the United States.

But I also serve as director of health innovation and policy for Intel, and I want to clear up any misconception about the status of other healthcare innovation efforts at Intel. A year into this, I sometimes am asked whether Intel has ended all other healthcare work and/or spun everything out with Care Innovations. While it is true that there is no longer a single, dedicated business unit at Intel focused on healthcare--what was formerly called the "Intel Digital Health Group" led by Louis Burns did spin out for the most part--there are still well over a dozen Intel teams globally driving a wide range of innovative projects. This website highlights many of the health IT related efforts we are focused on. And below is a sample of some of the activities currently happening at Intel--many of which I will be blogging about in the coming months:

- Intel sales and marketing experts continue to partner with healthcare organizations worldwide on the implementation of health IT, especially around cloud computing, security, and clinician mobility.

- Our Intelligent Systems Group continues to deliver Intel technologies into a wide range of medical customers and devices, from MRI machines to fitness equipment.

- The Intel "World Ahead" program just launched the "Skoool Healthcare Education" platform in Sri Lanka with a goal to help educate 1 million health workers by 2015.

- Various R&D groups inside Intel have explorations ranging from ubiquitous healthapplications on smart phones to the future of biosilicon and artificial organs.

- Intel architects and engineers have been invited in many countries to help design secure cloud architectures for EHRs, insurance exchanges, and regional health information networks.

- An Intel team is working on the challenge of delivering high performance computing to help usher in next generation genomics for personalized medicine.

- Our global public policy organization continues to work with governments worldwide on health innovation, from broadband plans to changing reimbursement models for virtual care.

- Our team of clinicians, social scientists, and engineers are working on next generation tablet designs for doctors and nurses, building upon the Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA) reference design.

- Intel recently helped to pilot a telemedicine network in rural Mexico that may well expand to the entire country to help connect patients and medical experts.

- We began work in China--and other countries--on the development of a blueprint on how to build "Age Friendly Cities" that use technology to drive better healthcare quality, access, & costs.

- Our social science team has been conducting ethnographic studies to inform the future of primary care/general practice using coordinated care teams and collaboration technologies.

And the list above continues to grow, not surprisingly, as so many countries and companies invest in the healthcare sector. Each quarter, I bring together Intel teams who are working in some way, shape, or form on healthcare innovation, and I continue to be amazed to find out where Intel's people and our technologies touch as our compute continuum meets the care continuum from hospital to home.

So, a "Happy Birthday" goes out to our partner and sister company, Care Innovations! And to all of our Intel collaborators, customers, and colleagues out there, I add: "Healthcare innovation is alive and well at Intel!" Please be sure to continue to reach out to your Intel contacts to find out about the many amazing ways in which we are working on the future of healthcare. After all, Intel's audacious corporate vision reads: "This decade we will create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person on earth." If this decade is also the beginning of the era of personalized medicine, it follows that these two visions are well intertwined. There are many of us still painted "Intel blue" who are determined to deliver upon that vision for healthcare. It's hard to imagine a more exciting business opportunity for our company; it's hard to imagine a more important calling for our world.

A year ago, I blogged a new year's resolution that I would blog more in 2011 about what was happening in healthcare reform, innovation, and information technology efforts that Intel is involved in around the world. I knew then that I should have stuck to my prior decade-long resolution not to make new year's resolutions (or annual predictions, for that matter!) because I didn't get to blog as often as I had hoped.  You would think I would know better by now: best intentions are nice, but you shouldn't make promises that you can't keep. So I won't promise to blog more in 2012--only to do the best that I can.

 

I used to make these same impossible promises to myself each January about "getting in shape." Given the number of neon gym membership ads shoved under my windshield wiper while parked at the grocery store, I suspect it is the same for many people. January is about the “I-ate-so-much-over-the-holidays-but-am-now-going-to-eat-right-and-exercise” resolution—to promise ourselves to do better in the nutrition and fitness departments. Thus, we buy not only gym memberships but all kinds of diet “solutions” and home exercise equipment each new year. We buy into these grand promises to ourselves that we will lose 40 pounds or run a marathon. We sell everyone around us on the concept that this is the “new me.” And for most of us, the intent to do the right thing lasts through the first quarter, the energy to do so through mid February, and the commitment just until the stores have sold the last leftover holiday wrapping paper and candy that no one bought at full price.

 

About three years ago, I finally got off this endless cycle of unfulfilled, self-made promises and set a different course that has produced far better results in terms of my health. I achieved this (and other positive side effects like losing 35 pounds and preparing for a 10k run) first and foremost by firing my doctor. I also fired myself as a "passive patient"--and rehired myself as a key "owner" of my own health and wellness. Many people are shocked when I tell them this, as if they could never imagine switching to a new physician. But it is preposterous that the idea of firing your personal doctor is so preposterous! Many of us demand the best possible service, expertise, and attention when we get our cars repaired, our vacations planned, or the health of our children or parents dealt with, but we somehow will just keep going to the same doctor year after year for ourselves, even when we feel like the relationship is lackluster at best.

 

In my case, I had gone to the same primary care doc--the one I had sort of stumbled into because he was "accepting new patients" in the brochure I was given when enrolling in benefits at my "new" Intel job--for TEN years! It was not that he was a bad doctor. He routinely saw me once a year. He was friendly enough (though he could never remember that I go by my middle name "Eric," not my first name "James"). And he dolled out the obligatory drugs for my multiple chronic conditions, small injuries, and the occasional flu as required. The problem was that he was, well, just another passive primary care physician...and I was, well, just another passive patient...caught up in the typical treadmill of reactive medicine as we each waited for the next "problem" to warrant a clinic visit. Over the last five years that I saw him (and I know this because I tracked it in my journal), he literally did not physically touch me during any of my visits. It got so bad that I even joked with friends that "my doctor seems to be afraid of touching his patients" because he simply interviewed me and placed check-marks on a form. But, still, I tolerated and maintained this mediocrity for years: I got my prescriptions; he got his reimbursement from my insurer; our interaction was simply a transaction that neither of us paid much attention to.

 

I finally got tired of this treadmill going nowhere and decided to look for a physician I loved, not just one I tolerated. I started asking around for recommendations from friends and colleagues, and while most everyone thought their doctor was "fine," almost no one seemed to love their physician as much as they did their easy-to-recommend babysitter or mechanic or financial planner. Which was strange to me, because people seemed incredibly loyal to their primary care physician and loathe to change to a new one, but unwilling to recommend one. Finally, a colleague at work gave me a passionate recommendation--she said I had to join GreenField Health because she loved all of their doctors and staff whom she had interacted with. I got on its website where it described itself as "a completely different doctor's office." Three years into this relationship, I readily admit that GreenField lives up to the hype: it was a game-changing move for me, and I am someone who loves my doctor, the staff, and the entire setup.

 

Now, I happily write a $500 check to GreenField each January as an annual resolution and investment in myself and a contract with them that I am very happy to make. This money enables them to provide me with a service--a doctor patient relationship--that I really need. There is no waiting room. I can get an appointment any time. We interact online through secure email when appropriate. I have a physician champion who oversees the complexities of my care across all the specialists I see. They take the time to help me--whether it is a 5 minute call or two hour exam. But most importantly, my doctor there starts with a very different question when we meet. He starts each "visit" by asking, "What should we work on together this year?" instead of the ubiquitous "What's wrong?" or "What seems to be the problem [for me to fix] today?" This is such an important, radical act to begin with a different question. He immediately enlists me as a partner with him on whatever health and wellness project I want to embark on. In my case, it was getting off the New Year's diet fad and onto a more ongoing, proactive, preventive, healthy lifestyle. The GreenField philosophy--embodied in that opening question--moves beyond the fix-what-is-broken mentality that governs so much of reactive medicine today to a proactive partnership for better health (and better "cost, quality, and access" as today's health reform mantra goes). Each year--and I am looking forward to my upcoming January meeting with him--we work on a plan together for my health for the year, and because he can afford through such a financial arrangement to spend time to help me deliver upon that plan, we actually make it happen.

 

I realize full well that not everyone is in a position to be able to fire their doctor or to pay $500 a year for this kind of personalized service. But each of us can demand more from our doctor and can step up as a partner to own more responsibility for our health. We can begin to get off the reactive medicine treadmill that is premised upon (and financed around) pharmacological fix-its rather than tackling more fundamental health issues. What my GreenField experience has helped me to realize is that we, as patients, have to be active members of a coordinated team and that we need a physician champion to help oversee all the other meds we take, specialists we see, and complex health needs that we have. I’ve been fortunate enough through GreenField to have a taste of the future of healthcare now: a true partnership, a prevention orientation, and a care team who takes the appropriate time to teach and enlist me in my own care and behavior change.

 

All around the world these days, we hear healthcare experts abuzz with catch phrases like "medical homes" or "patient centered medical homes" or "next generation primary care" or "coordinated, collaborative care teams."  And against the backdrop of these many discussions of electronic health records, meaningful use criteria, quality measurement, telehealth, clinician workflow, change management, age friendly cities, payment reform, cloud computing for clinics, data security, predictive analytics, and personalized medicine--many of which are topics I will end up blogging about in 2012 to some degree--it is important to remember that, at the end of the day, real reform--real innovation in healthcare--has to be about building better relationships between patients and doctors. (Or perhaps there will be better words for these staid, traditional roles, such as "providers" and "partners.") If all our efforts in reform and healthcare IT come to fruition successfully, then this kind of care I fallen in love with at GreenField shouldn’t be the "boutique" or "concierge" exception for only a few….it should become the norm and standard in care for everyone.

What do you think?

A year ago, I blogged a new year's resolution that I would blog more in 2011 about what was happening in healthcare reform, innovation, and information technology efforts that Intel is involved in around the world. I knew then that I should have stuck to my prior decade-long resolution not to make new year's resolutions (or annual predictions, for that matter!) because I didn't get to blog as often as I had hoped. You would think I would know better by now: best intentions are nice, but you shouldn't make promises that you can't keep. So I won't promise to blog more in 2012--only to do the best that I can.

I used to make these same impossible promises to myself each January about "getting in shape." Given the number of neon gym membership ads shoved under my windshield wiper while parked at the grocery store, I suspect it is the same for many people. January is about the “I-ate-so-much-over-the-holidays-but-am-now-going-to-eat-right-and-exercise” resolution—to promise ourselves to do better in the nutrition and fitness departments. Thus, we buy not only gym memberships but all kinds of diet “solutions” and home exercise equipment each new year. We buy into these grand promises to ourselves that we will lose 40 pounds or run a marathon. We sell everyone around us on the concept that this is the “new me.” And for most of us, the intent to do the right thing lasts through the first quarter, the energy to do so through mid February, and the commitment just until the stores have sold the last leftover holiday wrapping paper and candy that no one bought at full price.

About three years ago, I finally got off this endless cycle of unfulfilled, self-made promises and set a different course that has produced far better results in terms of my health. I achieved this (and other positive side effects like losing 35 pounds and preparing for a 10k run) first and foremost by firing my doctor. I also fired myself as a "passive patient"--and rehired myself as a key "owner" of my own health and wellness. Many people are shocked when I tell them this, as if they could never imagine switching to a new physician. But it is preposterous that the idea of firing your personal doctor is so preposterous! Many of us demand the best possible service, expertise, and attention when we get our cars repaired, our vacations planned, or the health of our children or parents dealt with, but we somehow will just keep going to the same doctor year after year for ourselves, even when we feel like the relationship is lackluster at best.

In my case, I had gone to the same primary care doc--the one I had sort of stumbled into because he was "accepting new patients" in the brochure I was given when enrolling in benefits at my "new" Intel job--for TEN years! It was not that he was a bad doctor. He routinely saw me once a year. He was friendly enough (though he could never remember that I go by my middle name "Eric," not my first name "James"). And he doled out the obligatory drugs for my multiple chronic conditions, small injuries, and the occasional flu as required. The problem was that he was, well, just another passive primary care physician...and I was, well, just another passive patient...caught up in the typical treadmill of reactive medicine as we each waited for the next "problem" to warrant a clinic visit. Over the last five years that I saw him (and I know this because I tracked it in my journal), he literally did not physically touch me during any of my visits. It got so bad that I even joked with friends that "my doctor seems to be afraid of touching his patients" because he simply interviewed me and placed check-marks on a form. But, still, I tolerated and maintained this mediocrity for years: I got my prescriptions; he got his reimbursement from my insurer; our interaction was simply a transaction that neither of us paid much attention to.

I finally got tired of this treadmill going nowhere and decided to look for a physician I loved, not just one I tolerated. I started asking around for recommendations from friends and colleagues, and while most everyone thought their doctor was "fine," almost no one seemed to love their physician as much as they did their easy-to-recommend babysitter or mechanic or financial planner. Which was strange to me, because people seemed incredibly loyal to their primary care physician and loathe to change to a new one, but unwilling to recommend one. Finally, a colleague at work gave me a passionate recommendation--she said I had to join GreenField Health because she loved all of their doctors and staff whom she had interacted with. I got on their website where they described themselves as "a completely different doctor's office." Three years into this relationship, I readily admit that GreenField lives up to the hype: it was a game-changing move for me, and I am someone who loves my doctor, the staff, and the entire setup.

Now, I happily write a $500 check to GreenField each January as an annual resolution and investment in myself and a contract with them that I am very happy to make. This money enables them to provide me with a service--a doctor patient relationship--that I really need. There is no waiting room. I can get an appointment any time. We interact online through secure email when appropriate. I have a physician champion who oversees the complexities of my care across all the specialists I see. They take the time to help me--whether it is a 5 minute call or two hour exam. But most importantly, my doctor there starts with a very different question when we meet. He starts each "visit" by asking, "What should we work on together this year?" instead of the ubiquitous "What's wrong?" or "What seems to be the problem [for me to fix] today?" This is such an important, radical act to begin with a different question. He immediately enlists me as a partner with him on whatever health and wellness project I want to embark on. In my case, it was getting off the New Year's diet fad and onto a more ongoing, proactive, preventive, healthy lifestyle. The GreenField philosophy--embodied in that opening question--moves beyond the fix-what-is-broken mentality that governs so much of reactive medicine today to a proactive partnership for better health (and better "cost, quality, and access" as today's health reform mantra goes). Each year--and I am looking forward to my upcoming January meeting with him--we work on a plan together for my health for the year, and because he can afford through such a financial arrangement to spend time to help me deliver upon that plan, we actually make it happen.

I realize full well that not everyone is in a position to be able to fire their doctor or to pay $500 a year for this kind of personalized service. But each of us can demand more from our doctor and can step up as a partner to own more responsibility for our health. We can begin to get off the reactive medicine treadmill that is premised upon (and financed around) pharmacological fix-its rather than tackling more fundamental health issues. What my GreenField experience has helped me to realize is that we, as patients, have to be active members of a coordinated team and that we need a physician champion to help oversee all the other meds we take, specialists we see, and complex health needs that we have. I’ve been fortunate enough through GreenField to have a taste of the future of healthcare now: a true partnership, a prevention orientation, and a care team who takes the appropriate time to teach and enlist me in my own care and behavior change.

All around the world these days, we hear healthcare experts abuzz with catch phrases like "medical homes" or "patient centered medical homes" or "next generation primary care" or "coordinated, collaborative care teams." And against the backdrop of these many discussions of electronic health records, meaningful use criteria, quality measurement, telehealth, clinician workflow, change management, age friendly cities, payment reform, cloud computing for clinics, data security, predictive analytics, and personalized medicine--many of which are topics I will end up blogging about in 2012 to some degree--it is important to remember that, at the end of the day, real reform--real innovation in healthcare--has to be about building better relationships between patients and doctors. (Or perhaps there will be better words for these staid, traditional roles, such as "providers" and "partners.") If all our efforts in reform and healthcare IT come to fruition successfully, then this kind of care I fallen in love with at GreenField shouldn’t be the "boutique" or "concierge" exception for only a few….it should become the norm and standard in care for everyone.

Despite national attention and the threat of Medicare penalties, many hospitals and health systems continue struggling to reduce hospital admission rates. A recent Dartmouth Atlas study found that average 30-day readmissions not only did not decline between 2004 and 2009 but in some areas of the United States actually rose.

 

New whitepaper on how to reduce hospital readmissions using technology support

 

Readmissions are a complex problem caused by factors ranging from psycho-social issues to fragmented care and lack of follow-up. Given an aging population, sicker patients, and a rising use of outpatient procedures, it’s not surprising that readmissions are difficult to reduce. But they are not impossible. Presbyterian Healthcare Services (PHS) shows that comprehensive efforts to coordinate care as patients move through the healthcare system, supported by healthcare information technologies and a commitment to the whole patient, can produce striking improvements. PHS’s readmissions rates are well below the national average, and the organization is driving them lower.

 

To see how PHS is reducing readmissions and using technology to support its strategic initiatives, read this new whitepaper authored by Intel along with Kathleen Davis, RN, MBA, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at PHS.

 

What are your thoughts on reducing readmission rates?

Consumer IT is a key and growing component of the future of IT in healthcare. This trend is also known as the Consumerization of IT, or BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and involves healthcare workers globally, and at all levels of healthcare organizations, requesting the ability to use their mobile devices to deliver better mobile healthcare. These personal devices include mobile phones, and in particular smartphones, as well as tablets. This trend promises to reduce the cost and improve the quality of patient care. Healthcare workers are motivated by improved user experience, flexibility, productivity and job satisfaction, and the ability to deliver patient care anytime and anywhere. Healthcare organizations are motivated by cost reduction and talent acquisition and retention.


However, this trend drives significant information privacy and security risks. Personal mobile devices bring diversity in device types, operating systems and versions. Compounding this is also the veritable explosion of mobile apps, especially in the personal app space, and these apps are often developed by “two guys in a garage” without adequate attention to privacy and security. Personal mobile devices are also typically refreshed faster than corporate provisioned devices, further compounding the diversity. This diversity results in major manageability challenges for healthcare organizations seeking to secure the continuum of mobile devices, including both personally and corporate owned devices. Personal mobile devices are at increased risk of malware infection from personal apps, social media, emailing and web browsing. Mobile devices in general are also at increased risk of loss, theft, unauthorized use, or use of unsecured wireless. Healthcare organizations are increasingly threatened by risk of security incidents such as breaches, and stronger regulations at national and state levels compelling the disclosure of such breaches.


In the face of these daunting risks some healthcare organizations are taking a reactive “just say no” stance. On the surface this approach may appear to be the safe option. However, in reality it risks driving the use of personal mobile devices “underground,” actually increasing risk to healthcare organizations. In practice one cannot prevent healthcare workers using their personal mobile devices, in particular smartphones, and they carry these devices with them all the time during work. Healthcare workers are motivated to deliver great patient care, and these devices offer powerful capabilities to help them do so.

Progressive healthcare organizations are taking a more proactive approach to embracing consumerization of mobile devices in healthcare, and realizing its benefits safely. This involves updating privacy and security policy to reflect acceptable use of personal mobile devices.


End users are then engaged to jointly determine the best devices for the use case(s), taking into consideration criteria such as consumption vs creation of content, online vs offline use, sanitization and ruggedization needs. Risk assessments may then be done to determine highest priority risks, and safeguards may then be used to mitigate risk to acceptable levels, including the use of compute models to control where sensitive healthcare information is at rest and in transit. Last but not least, healthcare workers are trained on acceptable use according to policy, including rationale on why certain usages are not permitted based on risks they present to the healthcare worker, organization and patients. Recognizing that even with a great proactive, preventative approach some security incidents such as breaches will happen, healthcare organizations are increasingly also deploying good detect and respond capabilities such as DLP (Data Loss Prevention) and SIEM (Security Incident and Event Management) to minimize the business impacts.


For more information see Healthcare Information at Risk: The Consumerization of Mobile Devices.


How is your organization approaching the use of personal mobile devices by healthcare workers to deliver patient care?

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