The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an education initiative and set of online tools to guide health care providers and organizations on protecting patient information found on on mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets, according to a news release.

The initiative, Mobile Devices: Know the RISKS. Take the STEPS. PROTECT and SECURE Health Information, offers educational resources such as videos, downloadable fact sheets and posters that recommend ways to safeguard protected patient information on mobile devices. Suggested steps include encryption, passwords, remote disabling, firewalls and automatic log-off. The initiative also offers advice on using public WiFi, downloading apps and verifying their functions and disposing of old devices.

“The use of mobile health technology holds great promise in improving health and health care, but the loss of health information can have a devastating impact on the trust that patients have in their providers.  It’s important that these tools are used correctly,” Joy Pritts, chief privacy officer for the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, stated in the release. “Health care providers, administrators and their staffs must create a culture of privacy and security across their organizations to ensure the privacy and security of their patients’ protected health information.”

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