It was announced today that AT&T has launched two new initiatives aimed at helping healthcare organizations deploy secure tablet solutions and send secure messaging, all while adhering to strict HIPAA and other regulatory guidelines.The first solution being introduced is called “AT&T Managed Tablets,” which is touted as a “highly secure, end-to-end management solution bundling software and services with any tablet that is easy to purchase and deploy. AT&T’s aim with the new managed solution is to help healthcare organizations better regulate the use of tablets by “controlling their introduction into the networked environment, ensuring that the devices have the appropriate security capabilities and can be remotely wiped if the device becomes lost or stolen.”
The second offering being introduced is a new mobile messaging platform called “AT&T Global Smart Messaging Suite for Healthcare,” which supports HIPAA-compliant, encrypted outbound messaging using the “Mobile Enterprise Messaging Suite (MEMS) from Soprano. Soprano is a company that provides the back-end messaging infrastructure for mobile operators. It’s not yet known whether the solution AT&T is leveraging was built specifically for them or if it’s being offered to other mobile operators.
The new secure messaging solution combines two mobile applications; Cipher and a new app from AT&T aptly called “Secure Messaging.” Cipher enables the initial transmission of encrypted information while the new AT&T Secure Messaging application allows for the decryption of the message. The new platform is available across carriers and on any smartphone or select feature phones, according to the company.
“Text messaging is proving to be an effective way to engage patients in their care, improve patient satisfaction, and even improve clinical outcomes,” said Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health, Partners HealthCare. “Messaging programs have great potential for providing low-cost, accessible, educational messaging to patients, and we look forward to additional applications of these powerful tools for reaching diverse and large patient populations.”
It was only a matter of time before mobile operators got on the secure messaging bandwagon but several questions still remain. Will AT&T, or Soprano for that matter, offer the secure messaging solution as an SDK or API to integrate into other mobile apps? Will people always be required to use these proprietary apps to send and receive the messages? We’ve reached out to AT&T for some clarification and will report back when we get a response. Stay tuned.