Windows 8 security for healthcare IT

Windows 8 security for healthcare IT

Summary: In the healthcare world, subject to both HIPAA and HITECH regulations, security is critically important. This article dives into the Windows 8 security models and shows how Windows 8 provides strong security for healthcare deployments.


Now that Windows 8 has been out for a while, we've all come to know both its strengths (it's a pretty solid OS under the hood) and its weaknesses (the missing Start button, for instance).

I've talked before about why I think there might actually be some benefit to the tile UI in a Windows 8 environment, and about why Windows 8 may be the ideal tablet OS for healthcare.

In this article, I'm going to continue our look into Windows 8. Personally, I use Windows 8 on my two machines. Once I installed Start8, I found Windows 8 to be virtually identical (although a little more reliable) than my Windows 7 machines. All my devices work well, all my device drivers, and even all the various pieces of specialized software.

In the healthcare world, subject to both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) regulations, security is critically important. Windows 8 has improved upon some of the previous Windows security models (and vastly improved on the security that exists on old XP machines). The following two segments (one video, one audio) dive into Windows 8 security, especially from a healthcare IT perspective.

This next "video" is audio-only, but very interesting. It's worth spending the six or so minutes to listen in.

Topics: Windows 8, Health, Security


Denise Amrich is a Registered Nurse, the health care advisor for the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, and a mentor for the Virtual Campus at Florida's Brevard Community College.

Nothing in this article is meant to be a substitute for medical advice, and shouldn't be considered as such. If you are in need of medical help, please see your doctor.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • who in THE HELL would use Windows 8 in a hospital? I would run from it

    I think if I was in a hospital where they were using a toy operating system to save lives I would run as fast and as far away from that hospital as I possibly could.
    • And I'm guessing if they used iOS or Android

      You'd do the same?
      Michael Alan Goff
    • iOS or Android or Android in a hospital?

      Doesn't instill me with confidence -

      "Nurse, pull up Mr. Farrel's chart"

      "I'm trying doctor, but all I'm getting is something that says meet sexy Asian women. Oh wait, Now I got Angry Birds, and a lot of Lipitor ads".

      In all seriousness, I was in the ER on Friday at the brand new hospital that just opened in November , and they were using small Windows based handheld devices to scan an track everything patient related via bar codes.
      William Farrel
      • who cares about windows

        Computer users care about the applications they have, not what OS they run on. In this particular case the applications are very restricted and the OS absolutely does not matter. It matters more how comfortable and convenient the device is.
        • Correct

          And Windows 8 allows a nice mix of big touch based apps on the move and a traditional interface, with keyboard and mouse, for typing up reports etc. back at a desk.

          That is better than either being desktop bound with an old XP computer, or worse an XP tablet, or having to use 2 different platforms, with something like an iPad on the move and a Windows PC back at the desk (or a Mac). You have all apps and applications you need on one device.

          Given the amount of legacy Windows software needed, that is a big bonus.
        • Such nonsense...

          A device without a good OS, that understands the device, is basically, a gadget and not much good for productive work.

          An application is written with the target device and OS in mind, and, there aren't too many applications written that are agnostic of the platform.

          Your nonsense has gotten more towards the garbage side.
          • Not true

            We provide a range of custom solutions, they are available under Windows or Linux on custom touch terminals - we've been suppliyng them for over a decade.

            The terminals boot directly into the application and the user doesn't use any other software, so they never even know what the underlying OS is. The applications look identical on Windows and Linux. If you didn't look at the boot sequence, you'd never know what OS is underneath.

            It is different, if you are talking about generic software, such as Office, SAP, Dynamics, NAV etc., but for devices for users that use one or two applications, they generally never see the underlying operating system.

            They are in situations, where they can't just pop up a web browser and post to Facebook or open Word and type a letter, they are in specific situations, where they only need THE application and if they switched out to something else, the whole production would stop, until they restarted the application, causing thousands of dollars per minute in lost productivity for the whole plant!

            A doctor doing rounds is similar, he has no business updating his Facebook wall, whilst he is supposed to be looking after patients! He needs his suite of patient software and nothing else on the device. The applications need to be intuitive and easy to use, but the underlying OS is pretty irrelevant, from the user perspective.

            What he does with his private tablet in his own time is another matter entirely.
          • Not true?!? And then, you agree with with me...

            when you include and start with the following statement:

            "We provide a range of custom solutions, they are available under Windows or Linux on custom touch terminals - we've been suppliyng them for over a decade."

            That doesn't really dispute my comments, and "custom solutions" is not exactly "platform or OS agnostic" solutions. When the custom solutions can run under Linux and Windows, then, they're taking those platforms into consideration when being designed and developed.
    • Sounds like you ran far away

      from that mental institution as fast as you could.

      Oh, and they're not using a "toy operating system". If you re-read the article you'll se the never once mentioned Apple or Linux.

      Was that the response you were fishing for?
      William Farrel
    • And I'd run...

      if they were still using XP...
  • I'm not so sure

    I'm working with a doctor's office to implement the Electronic Medical Records mandate of ACA (Obamacare). This is done in cooperation with a couple of big hospitals.

    When I asked if the new PC's we're buying for this should be Win 8 or Win 7 the response was: "Win 7. We don't support 8 and we don't plan to support 8".

    Now that may change in a few years but it does point out what I think is the biggest mistake MS made with 8. They forced their users to completely retrain, they forced their developers to completely rewrite, and I'm not sure what hoops the hardware folks had to jump through.

    Microsoft's biggest asset is their user and developer base. To say forget what you learned, forget what you wrote, this is better does not seem to be going over well. Perhaps they feel they'll have enough phones and tablets in the hands of consumers to make up for the people who get real work done with their devices.
    • @areeda" I'm not so sure

      What is meant by support Windows 8? I don't see what the difference between Windows 7 & 8 is when it comes to supporting a piece of software that already exists and runs on Windows 7. In our testing we've had a Java app that didn't quite work as expected on Windows 8, beyond that if it worked on Windows 7 it worked on Windows 8. The far bigger issues are apps built around Office or Internet Explorer and those have nothing to do with the OS but specific versions of those applications.
    • I'll try to answer

      First of all I have moved from medical research which I did for 30 years into a more academic environment of physics research so I'm not in the thick of the medical stuff but I still provide support to a few physicians that are friends and usually only when they run into trouble.

      The computers in the office are almost all Windows except for a few BYOD Mac laptops and iPads.

      Electronic Records Management is an Obamacare mandate that has to be up and running by Oct 1 or suffer fines (or are they taxes?). This is big data since it's meant to be available (securely) across doctors and hospitals. There are 3 big companies (I only vaguely know who they are) that do this and they all run under Windows 7. AFAIK none of them approve running their client software under Win8 and none of them will answer support questions (and there are a lot of them) for clients running under 8.

      This came up previously with an Echocariography database server and remote viewing stations. The vendors said something to the effect "well the software pretty much runs under 8 but you'll hate it, you have to go back and forth between Metro and Desktop"

      Neither of these vendors feel the new interface offers any advantage to their apps and have no plans to rewrite or support users who run into issues.

      I have no dog in the game.

      Oh and one more thing. In the Physics research I'm doing, Windows is the minority platform, servers and clusters are Linux based, most desktops are Macs and a smattering of users. The applications people say they are not going to anything special for Win 8 and cross platform testing will not include 8 at least not now.

      Again, I'm reporting decisions made by the PTB, not supporting or complaining abou them.
  • Windows 8 security for healthcare IT

    what a joke that is when microsoft know there is none what a joke
    • Sounds like you know what Microsoft knows, but, I highly doubt it,

      and all that you are doing is expressing a biased opinion, and you don't even have a clue about what Microsoft knows, and even worse, you don't even have a clue about what you're talking about.