My name is Josh Kittle and I’m currently a senior network engineer working for a large technology reseller. I primarily work with enterprise collaboration technologies, but my roots are in everything IT. For nearly a decade, I worked as a network architect in the IT department of one of the largest managed healthcare organizations in the United States. Therefore, healthcare security policy, the topic I’m going to introduce to you here today, is something I have quite a bit of experience with. More specifically, I’m going to talk about healthcare security concerns in IT, and how IT security is impacted by the requirements of healthcare, and conversely, how health care policy is impacted by IT initiatives. My ultimate goal is to turn this into a two-way dialogue. I want to hear your thoughts and feedback on this topic (especially if you work in healthcare IT) and see if together we can take this discussion further!

 

Over the next five posts, I’m going to talk about a number of different considerations for healthcare IT, both from the perspective of the IT organization and the business. In a way, the IT organization is serving an entirely different customer (the business) than the business is serving (in many cases, this is the consumer, but in other cases, it could be the providers). Much of the perspective I’m going to bring to this topic will be specific to the healthcare system within the United States, but I’d love to have a conversation in the forum below about how these topics play out in other geographical areas, for those of you living in other parts of the world. Let’s get started!

       

There are a number of things to consider as we prepare to discuss healthcare policy and IT, or IT policy and health care for that matter since we’re going to dip our toes into both perspectives. Let's start by talking about IT policy and health care. A lot of the same considerations that are important to us in traditional enterprise IT apply in healthcare IT, particularly around the topic of information security. When you really think about it, information security is as much a business policy as it is something we deal with in IT,  and information security is a great place to start this discussion. Let me take a second to define what I mean by information security. Bottom line, information security is the concept of making sure that information is available to the people who need it while preventing access to those who shouldn’t have it. This means protecting both data-at-rest as well as data-in-motion. Topics such as disk encryption, virtual private networks, as well as preventing data from being exposed using offline methods all play a key role. We will talk about various aspects of many of these in future posts!

       

The availability of healthcare-related information is it pertains to the consumer is a much larger subject than it has ever been. We have regulations such as HIPAA that govern how and where we are able to share and make data available. We have electronic medical records systems (EMR) that allow providers to share patient information. We have consumer-facing, internet-enabled technologies that allow patients to interact with caregivers from the comfort of their mobile device (or really, from anywhere). It’s an exciting time to be involved in healthcare IT, and there is no shortage of problems to solve. In my next couple of posts, I’m going to talk about protecting both data-at-rest and data-in-motion, so I want you to think about how these problems affect you if you’re in a healthcare environment (and feel free to speculate and bounce ideas off the forum walls even if you’re not). I would love to hear the challenges you face in these areas and how you’re going about solving them!

 

As mentioned above, I hope to turn this series into a dialogue of sorts. Share your thoughts and ideas below -- especially if you work in healthcare IT -- so we can take this discussion further.