As more health workers go mobile, whether telecommuting or as home health road warriors, managers are concerned, first and foremost, with mobile security as the top ranking required component of mobile user management tools.

Data security in general ranks highly int he minds of health managers, 90% of whom told Forrester that this was a critical or high IT security priority as they were entering 2010.

In a survey conducted for Fiberlink, a communications company, Forrester found that 89% of health care organizations have some employees working out of the office at least one day per week, and 87% of companies have employees telecommuting from home at least once a week. Furthermore, 95% of health companies have employees using smartphones for work — in addition to laptop computers.

One-third of the health companies polled said that their data have been compromised at least once in 2009.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: As health care goes mobile, security is top-of-mind for managers. It’s the IT department’s major headache for the next few years as the huge challenge of mobile security over phones and computers gets solved. We are just in the beginning of meeting this challenge…

When it comes to mobile health information security, there are two important issues that need dealing with asap. First, many health citizens are already concerned about the security of their personal health information as it moves from paper-based files into digital databases. Surveys among consumers who aren’t keen to adopt PHRs or EHRs overall cite security concerns as the #1 reason they like their data kept on paper in files. As health data go mobile over on-the-go laptops and smartphones, the data leakage challenge significantly grows.

At the same time, more data breaches in health happen due to internal causes than external hacks. Thus, policies need to be empowered through technology tools, like on-device encryption and automated policy violation alerts.

The benefits of mobile health are numerous, and health citizens are now being sold on the concepts through various applications, including the power of personal health records and health engagement, the adoption of iPhone health apps, participatory and connected health with providers, and on-line consultation with physicians via American Well, Teladoc, and other emerging video-conference type services. But a PHI breach caused by a mobile health encounter showing up on Larry King Live one evening is a wild card the mHealth industry can’t afford to let happen.