MSP Opportunity: Healthcare and Mobile Device Management

Healthcare has become a ripe vertical market for mobile device management as clinicians employ more smartphones and tablets on the job. Mobile devices give doctors and nurses greater flexibility, particularly compared with a workstation in a hallway or COWs (computers on wheels) that trundle from room to room in a hospital ward. They also introduce security risks, however. A mobile device that serves as patient data access tool falls squarely within the privacy and security provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). And many devices are deployed in this manner: 70 percent of healthcare provider organizations use mobile devices to access electronic medical records (EMRs), according to an October report from KLAS, a healthcare research firm.

The KLAS’ study cited securing patient data as a top provider concern in light of mobile device access. According to the report, MDM ranked third among the security measures healthcare organizations employ to secure mobile data access.  A little more than a third of the report’s respondents pointed to MDM as a security tactic (52 percent listed virtualization software and 43 percent cited encryption).

It’s likely that a hospital will use more than one method as it seeks to protect patient data. That situation will favor MSPs that include an MDM focus within a broader offering -- desktop virtualization and/or IT security, for example. Healthcare MSPs already working with EMR vendors -- Epic, Cerner and the like -- may use that business as a segue into MDM. Healthcare customers may ask their EMR vendors for help with secure mobile access, but an MSP could potentially step in to provide a solution with a wider scope.

Service providers who pursue the healthcare vertical will find a market under some pressure to get its security house in order. The Department of Health and Human Services is conducting audits that seek to determine whether healthcare organizations comply with HIPAA’s privacy and security rules. The audits kicked off last November and are scheduled to conclude next month. The HHS’ enforcement actions are considered pilot audits, the analysis of which will help shape future audit programs.

The influx of mobile devices in healthcare shows no signs of abating. The MSP that can provide an MDM solution -- and offer other layers of a defense-in-depth approach -- may find a large and growing market.

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