Memorial Health Services' remote patient record access "piloted" to secure Virtual Private Network

Alameda 14 September 1999Nowhere else do security issues raise more alarms than in the sensitive area of patient care. As health care organisations work at improving services, while reducing costs, physicians' remote access to patient data is one compelling option, but one that is fraught with serious legal and ethical issues on how to protect the data. Now, with the assistance of Pilot Network Services Inc., the Security Utility pioneer, Memorial Health Services, which includes Anaheim Memorial, Long Beach Memorial, Miller Children's at Long Beach Memorial, Orange Coast Memorial and Saddleback Memorial Medical Centers in Southern California, is offering physicians the cost-saving, better business practice of remote access to patient data. Doctors can review lab reports, medications, x-rays and other critical patient information on-line, while Pilot ensures that the confidentiality and security of the health records remain intact.


With four full-service medical centers and a children's hospital, Memorial Health Services serves Orange County and southern Los Angeles County. Its MemorialCare programme incorporates the highest standards of health care, offering access to women's, children's, rehabilitation, as well as medical and surgical hospitals at Long Beach Memorial, and outstanding community hospitals at Anaheim Memorial, Orange Coast Memorial and Saddleback Memorial. MemorialCare also offers outpatient services, such as home health, laboratory, occupational medicine, minor and urgent care, outpatient rehabilitation, hospice, infusion care, pain management, health education, non-invasive diagnostic services, and outpatient physical therapy.

Renowned for its forward-looking application of innovative technologies, Memorial Health Services first wanted to use the power of the Internet for physicians' access, from their homes or offices, to vital patient information. Well aware that building and installing its own secure network would be both prohibitively expensive and difficult, Memorial Health Services chose instead to use Pilot Secure Road Warrior, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service over the Internet. Delivered as an ongoing, completely managed service, Secure Road Warrior authenticates users and encrypts information in transit to prevent unauthorised access.

Pilot Secure Road Warrior forms a Virtual Private Network service enabling the telecommuters to connect laptops securely, easily, and cost-effectively to internal corporate networks over the Internet. The Pilot Secure Access and Gateways have built-in Fortified E-mail, Secure Web, and Secure FTP/Telnet Gateways, which are specifically configured and secure connections to the Internet. The Pilot Authentication Services provide extra levels of tracking, security, and measurability integrated with Pilot's high level of security and control. These "control" service options include virus scanning, Web filtering, and authentication services.

Now, physicians connect their personal computers securely, easily, and cost-effectively to Memorial Health Services' internal corporate network over the Internet, protected 24 hours a day and seven days a week by Pilot security experts and the advanced Pilot Heuristic Defense Infrastructure. Memorial Health Services CIO, J. Scott Joslyn, states that remote access to patient data offers speed, flexibility and efficiencies which makes the physician's job easier and the analysis of clinical information more timely. Pilot solved this problem and helped Memorial Health Services meet the objective of achieving the highest standards of clinical quality by having the best access to patient information.

Memorial Health Services had a sensitive and critical need which had to be addressed before remote access to patient information was possible, and that need was security, according to Marketta Silvera, president and CEO of Pilot. Pilot's multi-layered defense infrastructure provides that security. Silvera is very pleased to help Memorial Health Services leverage new communications technologies to cost-effectively improve the quality of health care. Security of e-business, whether in health care, financial institutions, or still other types of industry, needs to be built into the service infrastructure, according to his belief.

Looking ahead, Memorial Health Services has equally established a ground-breaking educational service in the form of a secure community Web site that provides users with updated information on health care issues such as breast cancer and cardiac health, and links visitors to updates on medical issues. Hosted by Pilot, which also offers traffic and profile information on users, the Web site may well evolve in the near future into a comprehensive interactive tool where the patients themselves can access their own medical records. More news on the use of Virtual Private Networks is available in the March 99 VMW article Boston doctors to view radiological images from home over virtual private network.

Leslie Versweyveld

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