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Why multi-factor authentication is the answer to mobile health concerns

Published: March 10th, 2017 By: IT World Canada Staff

TELUS

Mobile health is one of the fastest growing areas in health care today, according to the Canadian Medical Association. At the same time, IDC predicted that the health records of one out of three individuals in the world will have been compromised by cyber attacks in 2016. Identity management and data security are essential to realizing the benefits offered by mobile health applications. Multi-factor authentication solutions provide a way forward.

“Mobile devices can play a key role in transforming patient care,” says Shri Kalyanasundaram, senior strategy manager of digital identity and emerging products at Telus. “But Canadians need to feel confident that their personal information is secure.”

The demand for mobile health care

With the growth in mobility and digital choices, consumers now expect to access services anytime and anywhere. This is increasingly the case with health care as well. A 2016 Catalyst study found that three out of four Canadian own a smartphone, and 30 per cent had one or two health applications on their phone.

A recent American  survey showed that 70 per cent of clinicians are using their phone to access patient information. In Canada, half of Canadian doctors say they’ve used a mobile app in their practices (75 per cent of those under age 35), according to the Canadian Medical Association.

In addition to consumer demand for instant information, the growth in mobile health applications is being driven by the aging population, and accelerating health costs. According to Deloitte, “mobile health is enhancing overall consumer engagement in health care by increasing the flow of information, lowering costs through better decision making, fewer in-person visits and greater adherence to treatment plans.”

However, the health care industry has become the biggest target for cybercriminals. A KPMG report reveals that 80 per cent of executives at U.S. health care providers have admitted that cyber attacks have compromised their information systems.

How multi-factor authentication changes the game

Globally, health care providers are moving toward a model of using multi-factor authentication to verify the identity of users before allowing access to their mobile applications.

This approach is similar to the two-factor system in that it relies on the fact that you have your mobile device and that you can provide your PIN or biometric identification such as a fingerprint. For added security, it also depends on the account status (e.g. active, stolen, lost) with your mobile phone provider, since many consumers tend to notice right away if their phone is missing.

This single sign-on technology, called Mobile Connect, is a global initiative of the GSM Association, the industry body representing nearly 800 mobile network operators. A Mobile Connect trial is currently being used to allow up to 5 million Catalan citizens to access their medical data using their mobile phones. This will also enable them to interact with health professionals. “Mobility is one of the key elements that will take us into the future of health, as it strengthens the citizens’ active role in managing their own health,” said Dr. Francesc Garcia Cuyàs, director of Fundació TicSalut.

Telus is currently running a pilot of Mobile Connect, the first in Canada. “Our goal is to enable every Canadian to use their smart phone to access their online services safely, securely and conveniently,” says Kalyanasundaram.

This article is one in a series sponsored by Telus to provide advice and expertise on digital identity management for organizations. For more information, please email DigitalIdentity@telus.com.