Doctor’s office installing WiFi hotspot in waiting room – possible security risk?

The Star-Telegram in Texas reports on a doctor’s office where they’re installing a wireless hotspot in the waiting room. While we agree that this is probably a great thing for patients (we love our hotspots, we do), it might not be such a hot idea to be making IT infrastructure available to the public (even if you really try to secure it and keep it separate from your backend operations). Securing closed systems without wireless is tricky enough. Throw wireless in, and you may be opening the door to HIPAA problems.

For many patients, visiting the doctor means first enduring a stint in the waiting room — complete with uncomfortable chairs, outdated magazines and the drone of a television set.

Not anymore, at the Medical Clinic of North Texas.

The doctors’ practice, which has 24 clinics specializing in family and internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology, has turned six of its locations in Arlington, Irving and Plano into WiFi “hot spots.”

The technology allows patients free wireless Internet access while they idle at the doctors’ office, where they can use their laptops or other gadgets to read e-mail, pay bills or browse their favorite Web sites.

“We really wanted to think of something for the patients that would be a better use of their time,” said Emily Alcantar, clinic spokeswoman. “It’s kind of exciting for us to be at the forefront of something like this.”

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