Best Practices to Ensure Healthcare Mobile App Security

Healthcare Mobile Application Security Services

Healthcare mobile app market has risen exponentially over the years. More than 3,18,000 mobile apps are now live on different app stores and over 200 new apps are being added daily.

The trend is expected to grow even faster with increasing innovation and more enterprises taking the digital route. The convenience of sharing care workflows, enhanced efficiency of practitioners and easy access to data are encouraging providers to give access to health records. Per Goldman Sachs, the digital healthcare revolution with appropriate mobile app security features could save over $300 billion just in America.

However, an increase in the number of healthcare mobile applications is also posing a severe data security issue. IT departments are struggling to keep the data safe while complying with HIPPA – this issue is further deepned when the devices are owned by third parties.

How Severe is the Issue?

Smartphones are online 24*7, in most cases. And mobile devices lack the basic safety net of a computer including firewalls, anti-spam and malware protection.

A data breach will not only leak personal data of patients but it also makes the healthcare organization liable to criminal charges and hefty monetary fines. It has become nearly impossible for enterprises to keep the devices in secure hands. Some of the core challenges herein include:

  • Unwanted access to device and data in the event of loss and theft
  • Difficult to ensure regulatory compliance sanctity
  • Illegal access to healthcare data present on the cloud
  • No or limited lifecycle control over data and devices.
  • Mobile phishing or illegal access through malicious mobile apps

The failure to ensure ironclad data security could lead to unencrypted data losses at a median cost of $147,485 per lapse.

Hence, it has become imperative for healthcare providers to share the right information in a secure manner. Here are a few key steps you can take to ensure end-to-end data security:

Secure the Devices

Unauthorized access can lead to treacherous consequences for service providers. It is essential to put all the devices in or outside of healthcare under the safety net of passcode and biometrics. An efficient lock mechanism will ensure the prevention of illegal access to healthcare data.

Implementation of remote lock and wiping capabilities can help in controlling the fate of the device and data in case of theft. Loss or espionage. GPS tracking capabilities can help in locating and recovering the devices.

Data Encryption

Whatever data is accessed, is stored remotely in a server placed somewhere behind the security of firewalls. However, even the wireless flow of unencrypted data is not secured. As a precaution, it is essential to encrypt the sensitive health data of patients while in motion or at rest. This healthcare mobile application best practice will help plug any data leakage while meeting compliances.

Secured Mobile Application

The risk of intrusion can be prevented through cutting edge mHealth app testing. It will help in identifying bugs and security threats. Data security testing, network security and penetration testing are some of the techniques you can rely on to ensure efficient data security.

Periodic update of mHealth applications helps in plugging loopholes and enhancing mobile app security features on an ongoing basis. This will help in preventing hackers from targeting the loose ends of your mHealth app for a longer period of time.

Save from Other Mobile Applications

It is the IT department’s biggest challenge to keep personal data and applications away from the devices of healthcare professionals. Providers often end up using their devices for personal use which makes them vulnerable to external data threats.

It is essential to restrict users who are using mHealth mobile apps to keep the data protected. As a result, several Fortune 500 enterprises and hospitals have implemented the app and data containment policy. This is executed by running the mHealth application separately to prevent unauthorized access to healthcare data. This preventive wall between personal and patient data ensures reliable data security.

Access to Trusted Apps

Mobile applications present on Google Playstore or iOS App store are not necessarily secured by end-to-end encryption. mHealth developers need to collaborate with relevant app owners to make sure data encryption is enabled.

But why is it done in the first place? It is done to help providers carry on personal tasks too while on these these apps, providing both flexibility and data security.

Like desktop and laptop users, mobile devices should also be provided with access control features. This will allow only authorized providers to gain access to patient data. Additionally only IT should get the right to audit or manage the permissions of users.

Install Security Software

Hackers and viruses can enter mobile devices as easily as they do on computers. Make sure that the device of every provider is equipped with internet security software. It will help in preventing the installation of hazardous apps and malware from entering the healthcare network.

Data Usage Control

Implementation of data usage control not only helps in access control or monitoring; it blocks the suspicious usage of patient data in real-time. Healthcare organizations can leverage this feature to prevent users from executing specific actions including uploading on the internet, unauthorized email conversation, copying the data to external hard disk and printing among others.

Besides, data discovery and classification can be attached with data usage control to ensure sensitive data is identified and prevented from unauthorized use.

Security of Third-party Stakeholders

Several small and midsize healthcare organizations are leveraging the benefits of cloud computing. It offers technology similar to what bigger enterprises are using but at a fraction of the actual cost. Cloud-based solutions have lowered the massive upfront cost of deploying or upgrading the IT infrastructure.

However, this arrangement puts your data in hands of the third party. Hence, it becomes even more important to access and monitor the security of your patient data. mHealth app owners should demand billing verification and the amount of time spent on the company’s server.

Upgrade Tools

Exchange of data can happen through any medium including emails, USB, hard copies and social media. Healthcare enterprises should upgrade their IT infrastructure to cover every touchpoint through which data can be leaked.

Data breaches are more likely to happen if you have an outdated and vulnerable IT setup.

Educate and Implement Strong Policies

One of the best ways to ensure data security is by educating the end-user about the proper use of mobile devices and apps. The implementation of a clear policy framework eliminates grey areas in a BYOD environment.

Here are a few points which you can implement as a part of your policy framework:

  • Implementation of passcode gated data
  • Application containment for mHealth applications
  • Immediate notification to the relevant groups (in most cases the IT department) in the event of theft or loss of device
  • No sideloading of mHealth apps
  • Prohibit the local storage of Protected Health Information (PHI) on devices of providers


The healthcare industry has been suffering from data breaches for a long time. Increasing cases have cost millions of dollars to healthcare enterprises. From hackers stealing the protected identity of patients to providers viewing the details of patients without proper authorization; data breach is happening all over the world.

Aside from losing millions for failing to meet the compliance, cases of the data breach could cost the reputation of your organization as well. With new mobile devices entering your healthcare eco-systems on a regular basis, it is essential to safeguard patient data against potential threats.

Get in touch with us to have access to cutting-edge mHealth application testing services and reduce your data security threats.

About the Author

QA InfoTech

QA InfoTech

Established in 2003, with less than five testing experts, QA InfoTech has grown leaps and bounds with three QA Centers of Excellence globally; two of which are located in the hub of IT activity in India, Noida, and the other, our affiliate QA InfoTech Inc Michigan USA. In 2010 and 2011, QA InfoTech has been ranked in the top 100 places to work for in India.

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