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Healthcare conditions monitoring and HIPPA: Why there’s no need to worry

Posted by Jim Mayfield on Jun 21, 2019 10:22:00 AM

 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) covers a significant amount of territory in the world of health insurance and Protected Health Information (PHI). In addition to conferring specific rights pertaining to health insurance coverage and portability, it also specifies how personal health data is to be protected from unauthorized disclosure, theft and fraud.

As with most governmental regulation, the law is complex and not always easily understood. Given the legal complexity and the potential for significant penalties for violating the law, and it’s easy to understand why healthcare practitioners and the healthcare industry in general are skittish about any avenue that might offer a possible intruder access to the medical record vault.

It also hasn’t helped that healthcare system hacks continue to rise in the sector, and the threat is not going away. Ransomware attacks continue to target healthcare enterprises, prompting Raymond Pompon, principal threat researcher with F5 Labs to opine in April 2017 that “[R]ansomware ha[s]proven itself as an existential threat to medical service delivery in modern hospitals.”

Significant sums are being spent protecting against the ongoing IoT security hack, and exponentially more is at risk for victims.

In light of this volatile situation, why would anyone trust an IoT system to monitor temperature, humidity, air pressure and other room conditions within their healthcare enterprise?

The answer is simple. Conditions monitoring only transmits conditions data – temperature, humidity, air pressure – and in many cases, the monitoring platform does not share an enterprise IT or building automation/control system for monitoring and reporting purposes.

Sonicu wireless monitoring, for example, is capable of operating completely off of an existing IT or BAS system to monitor environmental conditions throughout a campus or entire network of offices.

Sonicu’s sensors sit in the client facility and never touch the client’s internal network. Sensor data is transmitted via 900 MHz radios (internal to the sensors) to a central cellular gateway and then to Sonicu’s Amazon Web Service platform.

900 MHz radios typically provide superior radio signal compared to WiFi and Cellular and are cost effective. Furthermore, 900 MHz radios have the ability to “Mesh,” providing a self-healing, reliable network. This is an ideal option for clients with many sensors in one area that can share a single cellular data plan.

The gateway utilizes a cellular modem to send data packets to SoniCloud. All traffic sent from the cellular modem is encrypted via a VPN and decrypted by Sonicu at AWS, ensuring data remains protected as it travels over the internet.

Additionally, most Sonicu sensors have the ability to serve both as a sensor and a data gateway by using a cellular modem internal to the sensor. This is an ideal option for locations that wish to use cellular transmission option and have a small number of sensors in each location.

Furthermore, Sonicu monitors and records only environmental data such as the temperature of cold storage equipment, room temperature and humidity, sound, air pressure, etc., and this is the only data transmitted.  As a result, there is no PHI or other HIPAA related information monitored by Sonicu devices.

To learn more about Sonicu’s healthcare, pharmacy and research wireless monitoring solutions, call (844) 4-SONICU (476-6428), or email info@sonicu.com.

Topics: laboratories, Room conditions monitoring, cybersecurity, wireless monitoring