A member of the healthcare and healthcare informatics programs at the American Sentinel University in Colorado reports that BYOD initiatives and mobile technology can help nurses deliver better care and lower the occurrence of medical errors. Judith Church commented that the familiarity of mobile devices allows RNs to communicate easily, optimizing patient care. Ms. Church believes that BYOD initiatives positively impact nurse workflows. It leads to a greater sense of a work/life balance and more control over the technological environment – as well as enhanced productivity and job performance.
“BYOD can play a significant role in nursing to improve workflows,” Church wrote. “The individual device and user prowess will contribute to optimal standardization of devices across the physical and electronic work environment.”She continues, explaining that BYOD initiatives will expand in the future throughout the healthcare industry because of the financial implications of a nurse purchasing her own device and training him or herself on how to use it – “since nurses are most familiar with their own devices, they will work more efficiently and effectively”
Ms. Church’s comments follow the release of a recent survey – the details of which were published in the Online Journal of Nursing Informatics – in which nurses questioned in the survey said that they use their personal mobile devices to improve patient safety and lower the risk of medical errors. The nurses suggested that by using their own mobile devices they could fill a communication gap with the hospital´s own technology to enable them to quickly access clinical reference data at the point of care or communicate with colleagues.
Author Brian Honigman identifies five major risks of BYOD policies to healthcare organizations beyond that of patient privacy.
Honigman´s first risk is the threat of healthcare apps. He states that BYOD devices are not equipped with the same level of protection as computers with unified threat management software to monitor and analyze third-party apps. Yet BYOD policies can include the use of an MDM solution alongside secure communication platforms to ensure that staff takes the necessary security precautions. Honigman also recommends introducing mandatory security measures (such as an application-level firewall) for employees included in a BYOD initiative.
The second of the risks of BYOD policies to healthcare organizations is their network support. BYOD initiatives put an enormous strain on a healthcare organization´s network, but federal law demands that a single network is deployed to handle the bandwidth created by the addition of mobile devices. Healthcare organizations must ensure that all devices are within the network to comply with necessary security protocols. In addition, staff can utilize applications only available within an encrypted channel, on WiFi or data networks.
The theft or loss of mobile devices is a common concern for organizations embracing BYOD. Honigman states the potential breach of PHI in such circumstances should make it necessary for IT departments to implement security measures on an individual’s mobile devices so that the device can be used in compliance with HIPAA. Various applications for healthcare allow IT departments to remotely wipe or lock a device or the specific application containing PHI. This helps ensure the confidentiality of any sent or received data, even without access to the phone.
The fourth issue is that of a medical facility´s “culture”. This according to Honigman can blur the lines between personal and professional use of mobile devices and it is necessary to establish boundaries about when it is appropriate for staff to use their Smartphones and iPhones for personal reasons. Organizations should utilize best practices to create policies that address the usage and management of BYOD within their workflows.
Finally, Honigman identifies the penalty for data breaches as one of the most important risks of BYOD policies to healthcare organizations. He states that the main challenge for healthcare organizations is balancing the benefits of a BYOD initiative with the restrictions enforced by HIPAA. Before implementing BYOD, healthcare organizations should evaluate the risk factors alongside the use cases. This will allow each facility to not only ensure HIPAA compliance but select the right policy or applications for their BYOD use case.
With these pros and cons in mind, healthcare organizations can begin to address their usage of BYOD and what policies and procedures they will need to include. BYOD is a great way to not only foster immediate communication but see cost savings and improved patient care. Be sure to check out our sample policies and case studies to see how other facilities embrace BYOD with TigerText.