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Data Security Top Reason Hospitals Prohibit Healthcare BYOD

A recent Spok survey found that data security and infrastructure Wi-Fi coverage are top challenges to healthcare BYOD.

data security top healthcare BYOD challenge

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth Snell

- More hospitals are allowing healthcare BYOD policies, but data security is the top reason why an organization would prohibit such policies from being implemented, according to a recent Spok survey.

Spok interviewed more than 350 healthcare leaders on their BYOD views, and found that 71 percent of hospitals in 2017 allow for BYOD policies. This is an increase from the 58 percent that allowed BYOD in 2016.

“Participation in BYOD policies continues to vary by role, correlating to staff needs and preferences,” researchers explained. “For example, a majority of physicians prefer to use their own mobile devices, while a majority of nurses prefer to use a hospital-issued device.”

Fifty-two percent of respondents said that data security was a top BYOD challenge, while 54 percent cited infrastructure Wi-Fi coverage as a top pain point. Forty-four percent of those surveyed stated infrastructure cellular coverage was their main challenge.

BYOD policies do keep data security in mind, the survey found. Eighty-one percent of respondents reported that their BYOD policies cover device security, with 59 percent stating that their organizational policies cover enforcement for policy noncompliance.

Easier communication between team members was the top driver behind BYOD policy implementation, with 59 percent of respondents citing it in 2017. Fifty percent of healthcare leaders reported the same in 2016.

Cost savings, workflow time savings for users, and response to physician demand were the next top drivers listed for implementing BYOD policies.

“For the first time, easier communication among care team members is cited as the top driver for supporting a BYOD environment,” researchers said. “This is especially interesting because BYOD usage can impede care team communication. Without access to the staff directory and on-call schedules, clinicians may have a hard time always finding the right person to speak with.”

The survey also found that hospital staff members may use personal devices for work even when BYOD is not allowed. Sixty-three percent of physicians reported to doing so, while 41 percent of nurses said they still use personal devices without a BYOD policy in place.

Physicians are the most common users of BYOD, with 62 percent stating that they opt for using their own device. Fifty-four percent of IT staff said they use BYOD, with 53 percent of nurse practitioners and 49 percent of administrators saying the same.

A HIMSS Analytics survey from earlier in 2017 also showed that mobile devices are rising in popularity at healthcare providers, with more entities opting for BYOD policies.

Three-quarters of the HIMSS respondents said they use smart phones or tablets for applications to access clinical information, with 70 percent reporting they use the devices for EHR access.

Mobile security was also listed as the top hurdle for the continued increase in mobile technology, the survey found.

“Regardless of being hospital provided or ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD), mobile technology has found a place in the clinical setting to help coordinate, support and provide patient care,” report authors wrote. “While many organizations still rely heavily on desktop computers, tablets and smart phones have been incorporated into the clinician’s and non-clinician’s day to day routine.”

Mobile devices were not the only tool physicians utilized for accessing patient data. Ninety-four percent of those surveyed aid that they use desktop computers for accessing information to provide and coordinate patient care, while 79 percent said that they use tablets. Forty-two percent of respondents said they use smartphones to access the same data.

“Tablets have seen an increase in usage over smart phones most likely due to the larger screen, allowing more face to face interaction with patients, and easier to maintain/track within the department/organization,” researchers said. “Additionally, with the complexities that may come with a bring your own device (BYOD) program, end users may not be willing to give up their personal device for work-related functions.”

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