Secure mobile photography system for health professionals. Melbourne-based app development and brand-building company, ProjectProject, has released a mobile photography app designed to help healthcare professionals comply with electronic health record and patient privacy legislation.
The app, called PicSafe Medi, allows a registered user to quickly snap a consented medical photo and share the image with another colleague, all within an entirely secure, and legallycompliant, mobile healthcare imaging system. The App runs on both Apple and Android systems.
“PicSafe Medi was designed to meet a real-time problem head on. With the majority of healthcare professionals surveyed out there now using their own camera-equipped smart devices in their practices, these devices clearly benefit our patients by helping us do our jobs better and more efficiently,” says Dr Ted Carner (MD, MPH, FAAD, FACD) a key founder of the PicSafe Medi solution and system.
Pre-PicSafe Medi, however, no secure, standardised system existed for safely using these devices within a medical setting.
The PicSafe platform easily meets the requirements of current healthcare legislation (including the upcoming, ‘March 2014 Privacy Amendment’), directly aimed at protecting the privacy of a patient’s electronic health record. At the same time, PicSafe Medi helps minimize personal and professional liability revolving around compliance with strict Federal regulations and potential costly fines and legal suits.
“Basically, PicSafe Medi provides the missing framework that allows us, as healthcare practitioners, to safely and compliantly use our smart devices for the benefit of our patients”.
BACKGROUND — HEAVY PENALTIES COMING
An estimated 65%+ of healthcare professionals now regularly take clinical photos with smart phones. Most admit to not considering any legal ramifications of such a commonplace practice.
Patient care benefits notwithstanding, such unsecure usage of smart devices contravene specific Federal laws relating to patient privacy. Such infractions, as of March 2014, can lead to heavy penalties, with institutional offenders potentially facing fines of up to $1,100,000 and individual practitioners, up to $220,000 where it can be shown that a breach of patient privacy has occurred. It is important to note that with the recent passage of the Federal “Enhancing Privacy Protection Bill”, it is no longer a requirement for the government to demonstrate damages in order to levy and collect such massive fines. All the Federal Privacy Commissioner need show is that there was a breach of the patient’s privacy.
ProjectProject CEO and Creative Director, Chris Gillard, says, “PicSafe Medi eliminates the compliance issues surrounding electronic patient data and the use of smart devices in medical settings.”
The system does this by:
- Obtaining full legal patient consent (including photo use choices)
- Segregating identifiers from photo
- Storing this segregated patient data separately
- Using strong encryption for all data transmission
- Employing a highly-secure, Australian-based cloud storage system
- Maintaining all patient data for a minimum of 7 years
- Requiring time-dependent User password entry
- Enforcing a strict User authentication process
- Generating random, time-restricted, photo-access URL tags
- Assuring a readily auditable trail for all data transactions, including geo, time, and device ID tagging.
“Importantly”, according to Gillard, “the fully-consented photo is always secure within the App and system, never on the mobile device.”
Only after signed (and, if desired, audio-recorded) consent is obtained, may a photo be sent to the securely-hosted PicSafe server. Once a photo has been “deposited” in the “PicSafe Cloud Bank”, a unique and dynamicallygenerated, short URL grants access to this photo by anyregistered PicSafe User nominated by the photographer.This designated recipient can then log into the app or website and view the URL-tagged image for a maximumof five minutes, after which the URL is inactivated andfurther access denied.
The PicSafe Medi team has busily been meeting with not only healthcare professionals from all walks of life but representatives of many of Victoria’s public and private hospitals and healthcare institutions. The PicSafe Medi system is designed to be seamlessly integrated into any hospital’s existing IT system without any disruption to current work flows.
“From the outset, we planned on PicSafe Medi being used by a range of healthcare professionals, not just physicians. From a nurse working in a wound-care clinic to a cosmetician injecting botox and fillers—PicSafe Medi is going to become an everyday tool for the practitioner needing to document a patient’s condition, particularly in “before-and-after” and “serial-visit” situations. Busy Nurses, GP’s, Physiotherapists, Intensivists, Surgeons, and Paramedics will all find PicSafe indispensible, in the clinic, on the wards, in the ED, the operating theatre, and on the streets”.
“To meet the varying needs of such a divergent user population, we have prioritised simplicity and rock-solid functionality throughout the design and development phases, so as to facilitate ease of interfacing our system with the unique needs of a variety of professional
backgrounds delivering healthcare in a wide range of clinical settings.
“We have in-built latent functionality and flexibility in anticipation of future changes in technologies and regulation. It is truly a dynamic platform”, says Dr Carner.
“This app will not only assure safety and privacy of sensitive patient data, but will, hopefully, serve as a template for establishing a more uniform, coherent standard for safe mobile medical photography – we’re happy to be part of that”, says Gillard.
PicSafe Medi is available on the Apple App store and on Google Play for Android. The app is free for the first month, after which a monthly subscription can be purchased for US$4.99.
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