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According to a recent report from Spyglass Consulting, it is not just doctors who are embracing medical BYOD schemes; nurses too are now participating and 69% of those polled said they bring their own mobile device to work with them.
Mobile devices cannot be used for all work activities, as the vast majority of healthcare providers operate strict controls over what the devices can be used for. One of their main uses is for organizing staff schedules and maintaining calendars, with more than half of healthcare staff using their devices for this purpose in addition to checking email according to healthcare mobile phone usage research conducted by Absolute Software. 36% said they were using the devices to access PHI.
For PHI to be accessed without causing a HIPAA violation, additional security controls must be employed to secure the data being sent. Mobile phones are not secure, can easily be lost or stolen and the messages they send can be intercepted. Secure texting solutions exist, and these must be used for communicating any PHI via SMS message. E-mail encryption is also required along with other device controls such as password protection.
Ultimately it is the patient that benefits from the use of Smartphones and other mobile devices in a healthcare setting. They allow much faster accessing of information, which can be obtained without leaving the patients side. The patient can become more involved in their own healthcare and the opportunities for co-ordination of care services are considerable, improving efficiency while driving down operational costs.
What’s more, the staff are calling for their employers to use the devices. Rather than work against employees – many of whom will ignore hospital rules and use their devices anyway – it is better to start developing a BYOD policy. If the staff are comfortable and happy, the workplace becomes a more productive place.
Smartphones and tablets can be used for an increasing range of functions, such as entering or retrieving data from EHRs, accessing reference material, viewing clinical information, test results and radiology reports. Orders can be made via the devices, prescriptions sent to pharmacies and information accessed from anywhere in a medical facility.
However, if care is not taken implementing BYOD schemes, heavy financial penalties await. The Office for Civil Rights and other regulatory bodies can fine organizations that violate HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. Controls must therefore be put in place to prevent accidental disclosure of PHI and ensure it is properly protected from external threats.