Mobile Technology in Healthcare and CMS ARS Compliance

In healthcare, trust between a patient and their healthcare team is paramount. Healthcare professionals know that protecting patients’ privacy is imperative to establishing that trust. However, the growing prevalence of cloud computing and mobile technology in healthcare complicates maintaining that privacy. 

This is especially true when it comes to home healthcare. Doctors and nurses working out of a patient’s home may be using devices and networks that are not equipped with the necessary safeguards to ensure the protection of patient information and privacy. 

These privacy concerns can also become compliance issues. The Center for Medicaid Services (CMS) has established Acceptable Risk Safeguards (ARS) which must be followed by any organization accessing CMS data in healthcare. By providing workers with rugged mobile devices equipped with enterprise mobility solutions, healthcare organizations can avoid accidental violations and ensure patient privacy and CMS ARS compliance.

What Is CMS ARS?

The CMS is the federal agency responsible for Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Health Insurance Marketplace. Between these programs, over 160 million Americans receive health coverage.

To safeguard the information of all these consumers, CMS issues its ARS standards with the goal to “define a baseline of minimum information security and privacy assurance.”

The current version of ARS, ARS 5.1,  establishes “minimum security and privacy requirements” for healthcare organizations to meet. Individual organizations will then be periodically assessed on these standards to ensure maintained compliance.

ARS affects nearly all healthcare providers, including:

  • CMS employees, contractors, and sub-contractors
  • Anyone accessing CMS data
  • Anyone serving Medicaid or Medicare patients

In other words, if any of your patients is one of the over 160 million using CMS services, ARS applies to you.

Smart Compliance Secures Firmware of Mobile Devices

When most people think of IT security and privacy threats, the first thing that comes to mind are software threats such as viruses and malware. However, there are also potential threats to the hardware and firmware of devices. And, since these threats attack vital code and components of the devices themselves, they can be even more persistent and disruptive than threats to software.

CMS ARS addresses firmware security numerous times but tackles the issue most directly in section SI-07 Software, Firmware, and Information Integrity. This section establishes the need for periodic checks to verify integrity on all fronts: software, firmware, and information on devices. It also further establishes the steps that must be taken in the event any unauthorized changes are found during the aforementioned checks.

Many healthcare organizations may not even know where to start when it comes to verifying firmware, hardware, and supply chain integrity. Panasonic Connect’s Smart Compliance service powered by Eclypsium simplifies the process. 

How Smart Compliance Improves Safety for Cloud Computing in Healthcare

Firmware integrity is more than just a CMS ARS compliance issue. For technology to be truly effective, users need to trust their devices. Smart Compliance provides peace of mind through multiple verification processes:

  • Deploys automated scans: Automated scans regularly verify the integrity of critical code across all assets. They also ensure that all pieces of mobile technology in healthcare are equipped with the correct components.
  • Validates the authenticity of new assets: Smart compliance builds an inventory of all IT infrastructure down to the hardware, firmware, and software levels. It also checks and verifies all new assets and devices against vendors’ software bills of material (SBOM).
  • Simplifies compliance: Comprehensive firmware and supply chain security make it easy to stay CMS ARS compliant. And greater insights into potential tech vulnerabilities can lead to smarter procurement decisions in the future.
  • Provides better threat protection: Advanced detection and response methods can neutralize threats that may be missed by standard endpoint detection and response (EDR) methods.

Smart compliance takes the guesswork out of device security and ensures healthcare teams will not need to worry about CMS ARS compliance. Instead, their focus can remain where it belongs: patient care.

The Best Mobile Technology in Healthcare for CMS ARS Compliance

Especially for organizations that provide home care, healthcare teams rely on a network of devices and software. This can further complicate CMS ARS compliance. It doesn’t matter if your care providers are using their own personal computers or a company-issued device. Without the necessary security in place for firmware and software, remote caregivers can be the most vulnerable to violations when accessing databases or recording patient information. Even with the best intentions, this scenario can lead to accidental violations of CMS ARS.

TOUGHBOOK’s mobile devices can solve this problem. By equipping your team with TOUGHBOOK mobile devices, you can ensure that all devices meet security standards while also reaping the cost and time-saving benefits of TOUGHBOOK rugged tech:

  • Durability: TOUGHBOOK devices are designed to work in any environment and withstand significantly more wear than consumer devices. This leads to fewer device replacements and more cost savings in the long term.
  • Reliability: Even something seemingly simple like battery usage can become a problem when consumer devices are used for long periods. They simply aren’t designed for that level of usage. TOUGHBOOK devices are. 
  • Connectivity: In-home healthcare settings, you don’t want to be reliant on potentially unsecured or unreliable patient wi-fi. TOUGHBOOK devices have built-in connectivity, so they’ll work in any setting and won’t be susceptible to unsecured connections.

In addition to these benefits, TOUGHBOOK devices unburden IT teams. Tools such as Smart Essentials allow IT to monitor devices from a central hub. This provides IT teams with useful security and compliance tools:

  • Device usage monitoring helps detect potential problems before they occur.
  • Control of third-party apps and software installation safeguards devices against malicious software and outside attacks.
  • Centralized control leads to easily updated device security, so no device becomes vulnerable.

TOUGHBOOK devices also connect IT teams to a suite of support options. From deployment and warranty support to expert services during the lifespan of a device, TOUGHBOOK solutions keep your devices up and running, allowing teams to work without interruption.

The Best Mobile Technology in Healthcare to Boost Productivity and Stay Compliant on CMS ARS

Mobile technology in healthcare should be a useful tool, not a cause for worry. By choosing the right devices, like TOUGHBOOK, equipped with the necessary safeguards like smart compliance, doctors and nurses can use their devices with confidence whether in traditional healthcare settings or working out of a patient’s home. Knowing that patients’ data is secure allows them to provide the best possible care and allows organizations to know that they are maintaining CMS ARS compliance.