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Healthcare Mobile Application Management Offers Security, Mobility

Healthcare mobile application management focuses more on securing the actual app rather than the endpoint device.

healthcare mobile application management

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Healthcare mobile applications are becoming more popular as organizations adopt mobile devices to increase workflow. Entities need to consider healthcare mobile application management (MAM) to help secure and monitor their applications on all devices no matter who owns them.

MAM is less cumbersome than enterprise mobility management (EMM) when it comes to what’s on the actual device. MAM also lets organizations exert control over the application and the data it accesses. This is done without intruding on the user’s personal information if she chooses to utilize her own personal device.

Healthcare is one vertical where MAM solutions are growing the most, according to Gartner’s recent MAM Market Guide report.

Gartner defines an MAM tool as one “designed specifically for the license management, distribution, securing and life cycle management of apps for multiple device platforms.”

“MAM tools can track licenses and may provide integration with public app store payment and licensing mechanisms (such as Apple's Volume Purchase Program [VPP]), an enterprise app store and the ability to set customized policies related to security, usage and ongoing management for apps or groups of apps,” Gartner states.

MAM solutions support native and HTML5 apps. Many also support a variety of popular hybrid app architectures, which gives organizations the flexibility to support apps developed using different methods.

MAM is becoming more prominent in healthcare because organizations are looking for solutions to manage the growing number of apps. In healthcare specifically, EMM solutions aren’t always practical or even possible in certain use cases. EMM solutions are often device specific and healthcare organizations use many different devices, which can make EMM deployment overly complicated.

The healthcare industry also uses consultants and clinicians who may work for more than one healthcare organization. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs are more practical in these cases, which means that organizations cannot exert total control over these devices.

EMM solutions have the potential to infiltrate a user’s private personal data. One organization’s EMM solution may violate certain standards other organizations have, making it impossible for the user to use her device under another organization.

The growing number of contract employees and professionals working for multiple organizations are some of the key drivers for stand-alone MAM solutions without EMM. Different operating systems and a maturing set of app management and security application programming interfaces (APIs) native to iOS, Android, and Windows 10 are also a key driver for MAM adoption.

“These APIs encompass all of the MAM policies most widely used by organizations today and are the de facto industry standard,” explained Gartner. “These APIs make it much easier for ISVs to enable their apps for enterprise management, as they can instrument apps per OS platform rather than per MAM platform.”

“The native APIs enable popular app policies, such as ‘open-in’ control (for ‘containerization’ of enterprise data), per-app VPN (with compatible VPN products), single sign-on (SSO) and selective wipe,” the report continued. They are the most commonly used mechanisms for managing and securing enterprise apps, and “they require enrollment in EMM to be accessed.”

Gartner advised that organizations considering EMM solutions should look first at the native capabilities of MAM. The general support of MAM policies can prevent organizations from running into obstacles that an entire EMM deployment might run into.

Healthcare organizations are using many different mobile devices. This sometimes makes it impractical to totally rely on the devices to manage applications.

End-point security is still important, but users are accessing healthcare data on a variety of devices using the same applications. This makes it more practical to focus on the application rather than the device. 

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