Going mobile? Here’s how to make sure you stay PHIPA-compliant

Going mobile? Here’s how to make sure you stay PHIPA-compliant

If your Ontario business uses mobile devices to collect, store, access, or manage patient data, make sure that it is compliant with the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). Gaining PHIPA compliance may seem difficult, but with the help of the right technology and professionals, it can be achieved.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best ways to make sure your mobile devices are PHIPA-compliant so you can keep out of trouble with the law.

What are the cybersecurity risks associated with mobile devices?

While mobile devices are incredibly convenient to use, they also come with data security risks that could jeopardize your practice's compliance with PHIPA regulations. For one, because mobile devices are portable, they can be easily stolen or lost. If one of the devices used by your company to store or access protected health information (PHI) is stolen or lost, then unauthorized entities may gain access to the PHI.

What's more, healthcare professionals who have not received training on how to use mobile devices in compliance with PHIPA regulations may unwittingly perform actions that violate PHIPA. For instance, employees may connect to public Wi-Fi networks that could be ridden with malware or spyware. They may also visit websites with malicious software, download unsafe email attachments, or unknowingly install apps that steal data. And because users often share their mobile devices with others, there's a greater risk of PHI being unintentionally disclosed to their close contacts.

Related reading: The 5 most common PHIPA mistakes to avoid

How can you guarantee that your mobile devices are PHIPA-compliant?

Here are some tips to ensure your mobile devices are compliant with PHIPA:

1. Invest in a secure mobile device management (MDM) solution

A good MDM system allows you to remotely manage and monitor all the mobile devices in your organization.

When vetting an MDM solution, look for features like data encryption, remote wipes, and password protection, as these will give you greater control over who can access specific kinds of data.

2. Ensure all your apps are safe and up to date

Any app that stores or transmits PHI must comply with PHIPA regulations, so be sure to use only apps that your IT department has approved. Also, regularly check for software updates on all of your mobile devices so you can install the latest operating systems and security patches as soon as they’re available. Doing so will help address security gaps these programs may have that could be exploited by cybercriminals.

3. Educate your employees on mobile device security

All employees who use mobile devices for work must be properly trained on how to use their gadgets in compliance with PHIPA regulations, regardless of whether their gadgets are company-issued or personally owned. This training should cover topics like setting strong passwords, preventing malware, and spotting phishing scams.

4. Develop a mobile device usage policy

Your organization should have a clear policy for mobile devices used for work. Some rules you may want to include in your policy include:

  • Only approved apps can be installed on company-issued mobile devices.
  • Only encrypted PHI can be stored on mobile devices.
  • Mobile devices must be password-protected and locked when not in use.
  • Employees must never share the mobile devices they use for work with anyone.
  • Report lost or stolen mobile devices immediately.

5. Implement tried-and-tested security measures

Leverage security measures that have been proven to protect PHI stored on mobile devices. For example, you can require employees to use a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing PHI from their mobile phones. A VPN will encrypt the data, making it more difficult for ill-intentioned actors to steal and make use of it.

You should also have a strong identity verification process. Enable multifactor authentication when you can, as it requires users to provide more than one form of identification, like the combination of a password, code, and fingerprint, before being given access to data and/or systems.

How can a managed IT services provider (MSP) help with PHIPA compliance?

By following the steps outlined above, you are one step closer to ensuring that your mobile devices are PHIPA-compliant. However, managing all of these security measures can be challenging, especially for businesses that don't have a dedicated IT staff.

This is where an MSP can help. An MSP can provide the expertise and resources needed to manage all aspects of your mobile device security, including implementing and regularly testing security measures that help achieve and maintain PHIPA compliance. They can also assist you in developing and enforcing policies around mobile device usage, as well as train your employees on how to use mobile devices safely and securely.

Let the experts at XBASE Technologies guide you in achieving PHIPA compliance by assessing your risks and implementing necessary security measures. Contact us now to learn how our EXponentially Better™ services can protect your organization.