Reports suggest smartphones could be responsible for healthcare IT breaches

A December report by the Ponemon Institute found that data breaches are becoming increasingly common in the healthcare industry, with nearly a third of all organizations reporting a breach in 2011. Due to the technical upgrades at many of these facilities, breaches can be dangerous for patients, as their medical and financial history could be compromised as a result of the occurrences.

However, many experts are wondering if smartphones have a role to play in the rise of data breaches. According to an August study by Manhattan Research, researchers found that more than 80 percent of U.S. physicians would be using smartphones by the end of 2011. This marked a 9 percent increase from the previous year's figures.

"This year it seems the issue of mobile devices has ratcheted up, because the adoption rate of smartphones that are really smart, or tablet computers, seems to have increased significantly,"  Larry Ponemon, the chair and founder of Ponemon Institute, said.

Experts say that due to the fact that these phones can access healthcare networks – and therefore electronic medical records and other vital data – and are relatively easy to lose, the devices could be used as a steppingstone by thieves who want to use this information for illegal purposes.

As a result, healthcare IT professionals who work with private practices or small medical facilities may need to safeguard their networks through other means. For example, pursuing the advice of a trusted EMR software provider that also offers consultancy services could be beneficial.

After ensuring their networks, these professionals may want to ask about Lytec or Allscripts EMR software, products that could help them reduce costs and improve their patient services when provided the appropriate levels of protection.