When we talk about 5G and the impact it will have on the healthcare industry, security is a critical piece of that conversation — but it can often go overlooked.

While at HIMSS this month, I spoke with AT&T’s Vice President of Healthcare Maria Lensing about how to mitigate security risks while implementing and managing 5G within a hospital’s infrastructure. We discussed how AT&T and Rush University Medical Center have just implemented the first-ever 5G hospital and the way this will change the way hospitals approach care.

“I think most people don’t understand [the significance of 5G] because of … the experiences we’ve had when going from 3G to 4G,” Lensing said during our conversation. “But if you think of an MRI, it’s such a big file coming seamlessly from a device — how is that going to allow us to do communications between the nurse, the doctors and the patient in the future? How about augmented reality and virtual reality in the operating theater? Can that help from a training perspective?”

Obviously there are many possibilities that 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) will bring to the table, but security and risk management are essential considerations when it comes to patient data.

“[Hospitals] are vulnerable,” Lensing added. “They have precious data that people are after. The threat on the mobility side, especially with IoT, is prevalent.”

Lensing’s recommendation to healthcare organizations is to seek help if they don’t have the internal security capabilities needed to keep this information secure. Defense-grade security suites like Samsung’s Knox will be crucial, especially when you need critical data protection from the chip up on your smartphones.

Data security is just one step among many in building the mobile-first hospital.