Mobile healthcare, telemedicine, telehealth, BYOD

Devices & Hardware News

Corporate BYOD Programs Continue to Grow; Security Risks Rise

By Vera Gruessner

- As the number of smartphones and other mobile devices continues to increase throughout the general population worldwide, the likelihood that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs are instituted will likely rise. According to Forbes, BYOD programs are due to grow because nearly every American worker owns a personal smart phone and is using the device in the workplace.

Bring Your Own Device Policy

More than 80 percent of workplaces now allow their employees to use their own personal mobile devices to connect to company networks. Clearly, BYOD programs are being implemented on a wide scale across the corporate culture.

The healthcare space is also taking part in adopting BYOD programs with doctors and nurses communicating with specialists and their patient community through smart phones, text messaging, and other personal mobile devices.

While the healthcare industry and other workplaces are incorporating BYOD programs and policies, there are still important security risk issues that need to be addressed when employees use their own personal mobile devices in the workplace. mHealthIntelligence.com previously reported on a Spok survey that emphasized the need for stronger data security when implementing BYOD programs and strategies.

In particular, the healthcare industry encompasses a vast amount of data based on private patient information, which could be put at risk of a data breach if BYOD programs do not include effective security measures. If a physician sends text messages via mobile devices and does not protect the information with strong security features, this could lead to a HIPAA violation for the provider’s medical facility as well as privacy issues for the patients themselves.

However, the institution of BYOD programs across the corporate culture allows for more flexibility among employees with some seeking the ‘ability to work remotely,’ Forbes explains.

Other benefits of BYOD programs includes the reduction in operating costs, as more employees employ their own personal mobile devices and companies do not have to provide company-owned laptops or smart devices.

The medical field is not the only area where mobile devices and BYOD programs are instituted. The federal government, for instance, is under the influence of a phenomenon called shadow BYOD. This essentially means that government employees are using mobile devices that have not been approved for use by top government officials.

This could potentially put private information at risk of cyber security breaches. In one small study, half of federal employees used personal mobile devices to read their work emails with a similar amount downloading government documents to their own device.

John D. Halamka, MD, MS, Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, wrote in a blog post about two projects that involve developing mobile health applications that possess stronger security features for storing patient data.

“I have long believed that social networking concepts, mobile devices, analytics, and cloud are key tactics for the success of any IT organization. We’re in an era as significant as the mainframe to PC revolution in which BYOD devices and apps are becoming the platform of choice. Given the regulatory/compliance mandates for security, the need for auditability, and the need for provenance (can we trust the data?), implementing a mobile strategy in a healthcare environment can be tricky business,” Halamka wrote.

“One of the downsides of BYOD is that smart phone photography can lead to privacy issues such as revealing clinical information inappropriately, should the photograph become available on a social network or publicly available website. BIDMC is piloting a new camera created by Ricoh that uploads photos to the electronic health record and deletes them from the camera immediately,” he explained. “We continue to explore options to make our workforce more mobile, procuring services that enhance productivity and usability while protecting security and safety.”

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