Mobile healthcare, telemedicine, telehealth, BYOD

Devices & Hardware News

Why BYOD Strategies Should Address Mobile Health Security

By Vera Gruessner

- The healthcare industry has been focused on implementing a wide variety of technologies including mobile health tools, electronic patient record systems, remote monitoring capabilities, and telemedicine platforms in an effort to improve the quality of patient care and health outcomes. During this time, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies have become the norm throughout many medical facilities. BYOD strategies continue to be integrated into the physician workflow in order to ensure patient data remains safe and secure.

Mobile Health Security

With more physicians and healthcare professionals using their own mobile devices in the workplace, it grows more important to ensure secure messaging tools are available to ensure doctor-patient confidentiality.

“What we’re seeing is the BYOD as sort of a phenomenon and how healthcare enterprises are going to deal with that. They’ve sort of gotten over the hump when it comes to physicians, but then there’s this other question about nursing. Nursing becomes a little more complicated because sometimes there’s union-based roles around using your personal device,” TigerText CEO Brad Brooks told HealthITSecurity.com.

“The question is, are hospitals adjusting to that policy of allowing nurses to use BYOD?  Are they going to reimburse them for it or not? Are they opening up budget items to buy devices? I think that’s sort of a trend that we expect to get sorted out over the next year or so with a lot of the larger systems out there.”

The company Spok published a survey called BYOD Trends in Healthcare: An Industry Snapshot, which offers additional information on BYOD strategies among physicians and nurses throughout medical facilities across the country.

One interesting finding in the survey is that 91 percent of polled hospitals and medical facilities allow doctors to participate in the BYOD program while only 51 percent allow nurses to do so and 79 percent enable administrators to take part in a BYOD policy.

There are a wide array of issues that BYOD strategies must address including data security, cost savings associated with personal device use, and the requirements of mobile tools throughout different departments. The Spok survey took a look at more than 450 healthcare organizations across the country to learn more about their mobile device use and BYOD strategies.

The results from the survey show that 75 percent of healthcare organizations endorse the use of smartphones, 67 percent support in-house pagers, 65 percent include tablets, and only 4 percent endorse smartwatches or other wearable devices.

More importantly, the survey found that 48 percent of smartphones and tablets in use at hospitals are personal devices owned by the physician or healthcare worker instead of the institution. Since nearly four out of ten hospitals allow for the use of personal mobile devices, the need for effective BYOD strategies and improved data security grows more important than ever before.

“As you look at where we’re at in terms of technology, information, information security, and the healthcare landscape in general, the one thing that we can’t engineer for is people,” Jeffrey Wilson, Director of Information Services, Assurance and IT Security at Albany Medical Center, told HealthITSecurity.com. “There are no controls that we can put in place.”

“The privacy and security concerns are that if we’re not quick enough at providing secure ways for people to operate and behave, they’re going to find ways to use the technology to go around our approved methods,” Wilson continued.

As more healthcare organizations across the nation continue to allow physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to utilize their own personal mobile devices at the workplace, the healthcare industry as a whole will need to develop strong BYOD strategies and effective mobile security policies to protect patient data.

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