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Posted on Sep 11, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Will Apple’s Touch ID Fingerprint Recognition Revolutionise mHealth Security?

With the announcement of Apple’s iPhone 5S, the new “Touch ID” fingerprint scanner represents an evolution in mHealth security.  As previously discussed in our Editorial over a year ago, one of the growing concerns around the use of mHealth are security issues.

Given the lack of clear guidelines, and poor support from hospitals, many clinicians have patient related information on their personal smartphones.  These can vary from clinical photos taken for documentation and communication with other clinical staff, to emails containing sensitive information.

With hardware encryption, enabled by default on many new smartphones, this means that lost phones cannot have data extracted from them without the correct passcode.  Together with a strong passcode and solid encryption, data on a lost phone is generally quite secure.  However the issue is that over 50% of smartphone users do not have a passcode enabled, and as such a lost phone with clinical data is a catastrophe.   Speaking to clinicians who were yet to enable passcodes on their mobile devices, the main reason was the simple hassle of typing in a passcode so often.

With the introduction of Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint recognition, there is no longer an excuse not to have a “passcode” (this time in the form of a fingerprint) on your smartphone.  The new Apple iPhone 5S has a fingerprint recognition module built into the “home” button on the iPhone.  After registering your finger print, simply touching the home screen button will unlock the device for you seamlessly.  Should the phone be lost, without your fingerprint, the contents of the device will be secure.

Healthcare workers now have a convenient, and highly secure way to protect clinical data on their smartphones.  Apple’s new Touch ID technology is a great step forward in the field of mHealth security, and will undoubtedly protect sensitive clinical information.