Terry Edwards

Growing demands for secure texting magnify healthcare’s BYOD hurdles

By Terry Edwards  /  21 Jul 2015

Proper oversight and security are needed before any healthcare organization can successfully implement BYOD policies. If you’re launching a BYOD program or looking to revise current policies, here are three tips for consideration:

  • Create BYOD policies which work for your clinicians. There’s a clear need to create better defined mobile device strategies which take into account clinical workflows. Healthcare organizations should understand how devices will be used throughout each workflow, as well as the associated risks, before creating a mobile device strategy. For example, a hospital may find it works best to issue hospital-supplied mobile devices for clinicians in one department while promoting a BYOD policy in another where workflow patterns differ. It isn’t one-size-fits-all.
  • Provide education on why employees need secure software on their personal devices. This may seem like an obvious must for a successful BYOD environment, but many clinicians don’t want to be bothered by additional apps or log-ins to access secure patient information. This is where ongoing education of potential security risks is needed, and it’s equally important to show clinicians how adding an approved secure texting app can help improve patient care team coordination when used correctly. Resistance is usually created by a fear of the unknown. Employees may have the perception that using secure clinical communication apps means added time for log-ins, but in reality using a mobile app may save them the time otherwise needed to return to the office to log on to the hospital network or visit a fax machine (yes, fax machines are still very much in use).
  • Take responsibility for lack of adherence to BYOD policies. Although a majority of healthcare providers have defined procedures for securing devices, a recent healthcare professional roundtable found that 46 percent admitted the policies are not being followed. Although it’s easy to blame an employee for this ignorance, healthcare organizations also need to take responsibility. Employee turnover, phone upgrades and new devices can all impact the effectiveness of any policy. It’s up to the organization to ensure employees are knowledgeable about device encryption and software updates, and offer repeated trainings and educational reminders to keep mobile security top of mind.

With mobile communications gaining popularity in healthcare, it’s imperative to be familiar with how your employees want to use their devices (calls, texting, emails) and offer BYOD policies which make sure secure communication tools are being used appropriately.

What’s your advice for helping clinicians stay current on BYOD policies?

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