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Verizon Adds Mobile Security To Healthcare Cloud

Doctors can access electronic health records, digitally sign prescriptions from smartphones and tablets with NIST Level 3 authentication in Verizon's UIS-Healthcare cloud-based service.

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Verizon has added healthcare identity standards for accessing electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchanges, as well as credentials for electronic prescribing and mobile connectivity, to its Verizon Universal Identity Services (UIS)-Healthcare cloud-based service.

UIS-Healthcare provides an identity ecosystem for healthcare professionals seeking to securely access and exchange data over robust networks. Verizon said its new security features are part of the company's strategy to help healthcare delivery organizations mitigate identity theft by enabling secure access to digitized health information. Officials also said customers will pay anywhere from $15 to $25 per user per year for the service, depending on what features they want.

Tracy Hulver, director of product marketing identity solutions, told InformationWeek Healthcare that the healthcare sector is one of the most heavily regulated industries, but many healthcare delivery organizations have limited budgets and fewer dollars to spend on data security and compliance.

Hulver added that because UIS-Healthcare is a cloud-based managed service it "allows healthcare organizations to economically manage their data systems because they are not maintaining the infrastructure and the administrative costs."

The newly added security features are designed to meet the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Level 3 authentication requirements; NIST is the federal agency that works with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements, and standards. The credentials also meet federal Meaningful Use requirements outlined in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009.

The enhanced services now deliver legally binding digital signature capabilities, which help physicians digitally sign patient health information--such as treatment plans, electronic prescriptions, laboratory reports, and discharge orders--with user authentication and security protections.

Other documents that can be digitally signed and exchanged include official communications with contractors and business partners and filings to government agencies. With Verizon's new ID Message Center, users can track their digital signature activities through a mobile application or optional Web-based portal.

"By using the ID Message Center, doctors can use UIS to authenticate the user to the healthcare network and then, when they write an e-prescription, be able to authenticate it at the transaction level that that prescription is actually valid," Hulver said.

UIS-Healthcare now allows physicians to log onto the system with their smartphones and tablets running on the widely used Apple iOS, Android, and BlackBerry mobile operating systems to authenticate their identity and access these new capabilities.

Additionally, UIS-Healthcare now supports the code of federal regulations from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Specifically, the new service supports CFR-1311 guidelines from the DEA, which regulates the use of e-prescribing for controlled substances. UIS-Healthcare also supports the FDA's CFR-21 Part 11, which provides digital signature guidelines for the submission of electronic records.

In June, Verizon announced that the service supports the SAFE-BioPharma standard, the only life science digital standard that offers interoperability with government agencies, such as the FDA and the European Medicines Agency.

Find out how health IT leaders are dealing with the industry's pain points, from allowing unfettered patient data access to sharing electronic records. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: There needs to be better e-communication between technologists and clinicians. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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