Small white notepads, massive X-ray readouts and clunky charts are fast becoming a thing of the past as many healthcare institutions embrace the BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, phenomenon. Doctors and nurses input vitals into an iPad or check their patient’s lab results after hours on their smartphone. In several cases, physicians and hospital employees use three, four or even five devices, which can quickly become a logistical nightmare for the facility''s IT department. Learn about the inherent risks of a BYOD policy in the healthcare industry. In addition on how to keep patients’ records safe while providing doctors and nurses the convenience of technology.

BYOD in a Healthcare Setting

There's no denying the inherent pros of implementing a BYOD system in any industry, including healthcare. Several studies have pointed out that employees, including doctors, nurses and other peripheral staff, feel more comfortable with their personal devices. This is increasing productivity and overall patient satisfaction. As technology becomes more of a necessity than a curiosity, it''s the job of a well-staffed and trained IT department to secure the vast network of patient files and mobile devices.

The advent of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) put healthcare facilities on high alert. How can a handful of IT specialists take the proverbial reigns and ensure patients’ rights aren''t compromised while allowing healthcare staff to access records in a more convenient, user-friendly manner? Such is the risk of implementing BYOD in the healthcare industry.

Effective Implementation

The danger of BYOD in healthcare is obvious, but with thoughtful practices and policies, it''s possible to allow access to their patients’ records from personal mobile devices while keeping the network secure. 

Get to Know MEM

Mobile Expense Management (MEM) hallows facilities to manage their service plans and devices. MEM educates both the facility and user of the device''s price, as well as the cost of unnecessary uses, including roaming charges. 

Choose Those Devices Thoughtfully

In a perfect world, every smartphone, tablet and laptop would magically run off the same operating system; unfortunately, this isn''t the case and it''s important to set a few ground rules when it comes time for an employee to add a new device into the network. It may infringe slightly on personal preference, but it’s necessary to keep the BYOD network secure and running smoothly. 

Basic Mobile Device Security

It''s hard to believe that many individuals still write down all their passwords on a little slip of paper; a practice that is relatively unsafe. In order to ensure the security of the BYOD network however, hospital employees should familiarize themselves with their tablet or smartphone''s security settings, such as passwords, anti-virus programs and firewalls. On top of this, healthcare facilities must take security a step further by utilizing encryption or in worst case scenarios, having the employee remotely wipe the device.

Make Your Policy Clear

Now that the beginning stages of BYOD are in motion, it''s critical to hash out a clear policy that everyone involved understands (as demonstrated here, a surprising amount of people have little education in regards to security issues for mobile devices). Once the policy is in place, instruct every employee interested in BYOD to sign an agreement stating each individual understands the policy and will remain compliant. If there's any confusion, consider employee training or hiring temporary technical support to ensure everyone involved knows exactly what is expected of them. This extra effort could mean the difference between compromising a patient''s security and remaining HIPAA compliant.

Once the BYOD system is up and running, it''s critical to continue closely monitoring the system and as technology evolves, upgrade or update your security measures. A facility cannot simply set down rules and walk away in hopes that everyone will remain compliant. Healthcare facilities must reassess their network, remain up-to-date of the latest threats and keep in the know on the latest technologies to ensure their BYOD policy is a success.


About the Author: Sandra Montgomery is a technical writer for the IT industry. Besides technical writing, she also reports on the latest news in both smartphones and tablets.