Technically Speaking: Take Steps Now to Disable VoalteMe Lock Screen Previews

Greetings, fellow providers!

Part of our duty as medical professionals is to safeguard patient data from prying eyes. Our technical team just learned of a potential security issue that could jeopardize such data, and I wanted to share it with all of you as soon as possible.

VoalteMe, the smartphone app that runs on personal devices and allows users to communicate with providers, nurses and hospital staff using the hospital’s Voalte network, is now showing some message previews on mobile devices’ lock screens.  Message previews are nice—they allow users to see not only who a message is from, but also a portion of the content of the message.  This isn’t usually an issue for personal messages, but when those messages can contain patient health information (PHI), each one is a potential leak waiting to occur.

In the past, Voalte messages could not be previewed from a lock screen. This prevented anyone but the owner of the mobile device from reading any of the content of the message. Now a setting has changed that sometimes allows this to occur. We have deemed it a potential security risk.

While we dialogue with Voalte to see if we can disable previews, we encourage all of you to do so yourselves to safeguard your patients’ PHI. To do this on an iPhone, open your device settings (note: NOT settings within the Voalte app) and tap VoalteMe. Then tap Notifications and change Show Previews to When Unlocked or Never. This process is likely slightly different for Android users, but the idea is the same.

I’ll let you know if and when Voalte goes back to not allowing previews by default.

Thanks for keeping PHI secure and for all you do!

Stephen Dolter, M.D., CMIO

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