Security in Cloud- Computing-Based Mobile Health

Security in Cloud-Computing-Based Mobile Health

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Hospitals and clinics frequently use IT
systems to store and process patient
data, which is accessed by health professionals
such as doctors and nurses
to help them analyze health conditions and prescribe
treatment. In many cases, the professionals
who provide information to IT systems are
not those who observe and analyze the data.
Moreover, those healthcare professionals responsible
for patients (as well as patients themselves)
might not be physically present in the
hospital environments where the IT systems
work; thus, resources for remote access to information
are fundamental for healthcare services
to work properly.

In this sense, cloud computing and mobile computing play important roles because they represent trends that have grown in recent years, and provide a high-quality experience to users who must manipulate remote data. Cloud computing enables data to be stored and processed in shared environments accessed through sophisticated communications structures (especially the Internet). Mobile computing provides access to data through portable devices and mobile communications technology, which assures user mobility. The application of mobile computing to the healthcare context has given rise to mobile health (m-health) technologies, which, when linked to cloud computing, provide several advantages for healthcare professionals, patients, and other groups that must handle various types of health information. Despite these advantages, several problems have emerged related to using such technologies. In the information security area, concerns about the privacy of patients’ health data, for example, were restricted in traditional healthcare IT environments to measures that protected data located only on the health organizations’ computers. The use of cloud computing has made such concerns far more complex, and we must now consider the security of information sometimes stored in environments that are globally accessible. Similarly, the use of mobile computing and its complex communications infrastructure could introduce serious risks that might lead to the incorrect analyses of health information, erroneous predictions of patients’ situations, and, in extreme cases, inadequate treatments resulting in death if some data transmission problem occurs. Here, we examine some of the security problems inherent to cloud-computing-based m-health and discuss possible solutions.