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Mobile Computing in the Health Industry

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Mobile Computing in the Health Industry
Michael Murillo
CIS500 – Strayer University
Professor Eve Yeates
August 19, 2012

Introduction
Over the years, the growth of the information technology industry has pioneered new developments in the field of mobile computing technology. Mobile computing devices has brought about change in several organizations around the world including the banking and financial industries. One of the industries that mobile computing has had the biggest impact is the healthcare industry. Health care providers and clinicians alike are constantly finding new and inventive ways to take advantage of the mobile computing technology to increase revenues, and to improve quality of service in terms of patient care and response.
However, the use and implementation of mobile computing technology within the healthcare industry has not come without its source of problems. Laptop computers were bulky and the carts designed to tote these devices around the facility were very difficult to manage. According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), “those solutions frequently failed in real-world healthcare environments, largely due to inconvenience.” The introduction of mobile computing technology in its infancy stage brought about cellphones and PDA’s which proved to be inconvenient as well. Now we come to the age of tablets and smartphones which has improved mobile computing technology for the healthcare industry immensely.

Mobile Computing in the Healthcare Industry
The mobile computing technology currently implemented in the healthcare industry has both its advantages and disadvantages. To summarize, the succeeding list of both pros and cons are as follows:
Advantages:
1. Quick response to patients. Patient care questions and answers, remedies, prescriptions, and patient records are immediately available and accessible. 2. Patients have access to medical records, history, and information utilizing mobile apps. 3. Doctors and clinicians have access to patient data while on the go. 4. Eliminates the use of multiple devices to access patient medical records. 5. Applications in general are simple and require no or little technical knowledge. 6. Application development for mobile solutions can be realized within modest budgets.
Disadvantages:
1. Technical emphasis can be a stress factor for patients as well as medical staff. 2. The input of data needs to be secured and stored. 3. The infrastructure may not be able to offer the same standards as with wired technologies. 4. The radiation issue still unclear and needs to be defined and clarified. 5. The industry overall must agree to a certain industry standard.
The biggest issue regarding mobile computing technology is data security. There has however, been tremendous strides in the technologies formulated to secure patient data and to prevent eavesdropping, sniffing, active interception, or man-in-the-middle attacks. There have been many flaws found in older encryption protocols used to protect wireless networks. Improper cryptographic methods has left Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) vulnerable to attack, especially so in a healthcare environment where we are dealing with Protected Health Information (PHI). Since then, cryptographic methods have improved. Now we have WPA2 which provides a more sophisticated method of encryption by the use of Advanced Encryption Standards (AES) based on the Rijndael algorithm a symmetric block cipher that can process data blocks of 128bits using cipher keys with lengths of 128bits, 192bits, and 256bits. This is the highest form of encryption for wireless technology to date and there is no such method of hacking or cracking AES at this time. Another form of protection to wireless networks and the mobile computing industry is the introduction of the 802.1x standard, which was developed as a means to face the challenges regarding wireless networks and wired networks from such vulnerabilities and threats. Port based authentication eliminated the threat of user intervention by unauthorized means of gaining access to an organizations network by providing a mechanism of authenticating the user at the point of connection (the port). Therefore, if an unauthorized person tried to gain access into an organizations network, he/she would have to be authenticated at the port level prior to gaining access to resources on the network or from the network servers. Another method of providing protection to an organizations network via wireless technology is through the use of MAC address filtering. Access points come with a built in feature that could allow the administrator to configure which devices can have access to the network based on the physical address of the device. These methods gave more flexibility to the network administrator in delegating control of network resources to authenticated users and preventing unauthorized access from malicious attack.
The Power of Shared Experiences via Social Networking The power of social networking has proven to be a helpful tool in organizing assistance when dealing with a major illness. Carepages.com is a website designed to provide support to families coping with cancer and other serious illnesses. Patients can post updates on there condition, share thoughts about how they are feeling. They can also share multimedia contents such as photos or videos, and obtain a flux of support from individuals from around the world experiencing the same illnesses. The power of social networking call also be helpful in updating family and friends in an instant without having to take the time to make several phone calls or text messages. Amazon.com’s Universal Wish List is also a creative means to have family and friends help during a time of serious illness and financial crisis. This service allows the patient to post a wish list of things as simple as detergent to pricey dietary supplement drinks. Friends or family can purchase the items and have them shipped directly to the patient. It eases the financial burden and gives those who love you the opportunity to help no matter how distant you may be.

References
Linhoff, M. (2001, May 22). Mobile computing in medical and healthcare industry. Retrieved from http://subs.emis.de/LNI/Proceedings/Proceedings15/GI-Proceedings.15-22.pdf
HIMSS. (2011, November 1). Security of mobile computing devices in the healthcare environment. Retrieved from http://www.himss.org/content/files/PrivacySecurity/ HIMSS_Mobility_Security_in_Healthcare_Final.pdf
Torrieri, M. (2011, February 21). Doctor touts tablet computer for improving patient care delivery. Retrieved from http://www.physicianspractice.com/conference-insider/himss2011/content/article/1462168/1801897
SANS Institute (2003, December 23) Securing wireless networks for HIPAA compliance.
Retrieved from http://www.sans.org/reading_room/whitepapers/awareness/securing-wireless-networks-hipaa-compliance_1335 University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. (2011, August 19) Tap into the power of social networking. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.med.umich.edu/living/social-net.html

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