Department of Veteran’s Affairs to allow smartphones for use in accessing patient data

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The Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) recently announced plans for employees to be permitted to use smartphones to access information from their electronic health record systems, according to Information Week.

Presently, only Blackberries are authorized to access patient data from the EHR system, but the new plans would allow devices such as Apple’s iPhone and Motorola’s Droid to access data on the network, provided encryption was secure. VA chief information officer Roger Baker declined to specify which devices would be approved, but said that they would be looking at a “particular set of very popular devices,” as quoted by Government Health IT.

“We will be highly confident that anything that is storing information on the device has encryption, and in all of the cases we’ll be satisfied that the authenticated user is able to view information but not download it on to the device,” said Baker as quoted by the news outlet.

EHR Watch reports that VA has already tested the system, using a Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS) client, a clinician application that would reside on an individual device and determine the security of data encryption as well as permit access to information on the network.

Government Health IT reports that it seems likely that employee’s personal devices would be outfitted with the appropriate software and granted access, as opposed to a large-scale purchase by VA due to rapid technological obsolescence in the smartphone market.

Baker told the news outlet that if employees were to bring their personal devices in and sign a release allowing them to monitor usage, the devices could be granted access to the system.