ATandT Introduces Management Platform to Secure Tablets in Health Care

AT&T has launched a platform to allow health care professionals to manage data security on tablets and also unveiled a HIPAA-compliant mobile-messaging suite.

AT&T has introduced a mobile device management platform for health care called Managed Tablets to provide a way for doctors to connect to hospitals' data networks securely.

With mobile devices presenting a potential data breach threat, AT&T is looking to secure mobile access to sensitive health care data.

By using Managed Tablets, hospitals can encrypt employees' tablets from a hosted platform and wipe the devices if they're lost or stolen, AT&T reports. IT managers can also load policies and credentials for email, VPN and WiFi access.

Managed Tablets allows health care systems and hospitals to secure access to resources, records and information in facilities' IT infrastructure, Eleanor Chye, executive director for mobility health care and pharma at AT&T Business Solutions, wrote in an email to eWEEK.

The company has designed a standard configuration for Managed Tablets on the Apple iPad, but it will add security management for other tablets on a "case-by-case" basis, said Chye.

"We would have to review the specific device request with the customer to ensure we could support [it]," said Chye.

AT&T announced Managed Tablets on Jan. 23, along with the updated Global Smart Messaging Suite for Healthcare, a cloud-based mobile messaging platform that AT&T says conforms to HIPAA regulations by encrypting outbound messages.

HIPAA requires "covered entities" such as hospitals and health insurance companies to receive patient consent before disclosing health information. By encrypting text messages, the Smart Messaging Suite now complies with HIPAA privacy and security rules.

"We've trained our customer care personnel supporting this solution on the requirements of HIPAA, and we've tested the infrastructure to confirm that it meets the standards of HIPAA's Security Rule," said Chye.

The Security Rule requires companies to implement the proper policies, procedures and "technical safeguards" to protect patient data.

Mobile software vendor Soprano Design developed the Smart Messaging Suite.

First introduced in February 2011, the health care version of Smart Messaging Suite now incorporates Cypher, a messaging application that encrypts outbound messages on the provider side and allows message recipients to download an AT&T Secure Messaging component to decrypt messages. Users can view appointment reminders, payment notices and test results.

Once a message has been decrypted, users must secure the data on their own, said Chye.

Smart Messaging Suite works on multiple carriers' networks. It allows doctors, health insurance carriers and pharmaceutical companies to exchange text messages and email securely with patients as well as other physicians and clinicians.

"The messages are highly secure and protect any personal health information conveyed," said Chye. "

AT&T plans to demonstrate both the Managed Tablets and Global Smart Messaging Suite services at the HIMSS12 conference from Feb. 20-24 in Las Vegas.

Companies such as MobileIron and Voalt??« also offer mobile device management platforms for health care companies.

With doctors looking to access patient data remotely, mobile devices present an increased threat for data breaches, especially if a device is lost or stolen.

"The vast majority of reportable HIPAA-related breaches stem from portable devices being lost or stolen with unprotected health information on them," said Chye. "The challenge that CIOs have with the adoption of tablets in health care is the appropriate control of the use of mobile devices, which can compromise the integrity of data."