Growth of Mobile Technology in Medicine Continues

The benefits of mobile technology in medicine are too good to pass on. Healthcare mobile use is growing at an astonishing rate with some healthcare providers opting to supply mobile devices to medical professionals. Unfortunately, the cost can be prohibitively expensive, especially considering the number of devices that must be purchased and their typical lifespan.

Continued Growth of Mobile Technology in Medicine

Many healthcare providers have realized the most cost effective way to introduce mobile technology in medicine is to allow medical professionals to bring their own devices to work. The vast majority of physicians use a Smartphone for personal communications, and laptops and other portable devices are becoming increasingly common. Furthermore, personal devices tend to be more advanced than those given to the staff by healthcare providers.

The benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) schemes are numerous and medical professionals want to use their own devices at work. It is just a matter of finding the best way to achieve the benefits without risking exposing patient data.

According to Marc Kohli, MD of Indiana University School of Medicine, the best way to introduce mobile technology in medicine is to use BYOD. He says BYOD “is here and it’s here to stay.” Kohli told delegates at a recent SIIM 2013 session that 81% of workers now use a mobile phone for work purposes, and in the healthcare industry that figure is 84%. Not all of those physicians have been supplied a phone, or are part of a BYOD scheme.

Challenges of Introducing Mobile Technology in Healthcare

The introduction of mobile technology in healthcare has been a challenge. The healthcare industry is heavily regulated; data must be secured at all times, and information must be encrypted in transit. Devices need robust security software and secure apps, and healthcare providers must implement numerous administrative controls to ensure patient privacy is not violated.

According to Kohli, “This has really led to a culture shift to where [organizations] are no longer trying to secure systems, but secure the information in the systems.”

In order to do that, healthcare organizations have developed new mobile data security standards. Those that have already implemented those standards should be able to avoid data breaches and HIPAA violations. Those that don’t are likely to be added to the OCR’s “Wall of Shame”.

Mobile Data Security Standards Must be Developed

Standards must be implemented to ensure devices are secure and data is properly protected. Password controls are essential. Password controls can force users to create secure passwords, such as setting a minimum of 8 digits and the inclusion of a capital letter, symbol and number, for example. Users must also be forced to change passwords every 6 months.

Additional security controls should be used to lockout users after three failed login attempts. Data encryption should be used for data at rest and a secure SMS messaging system should be downloaded to the devices for work communications. Similarly, secure email platforms should also be installed.

Standards should also stipulate the use of anti-virus and anti-malware software, intrusion prevention and intrusion detection systems.

Benefits of BYOD Are Being Realized by Early Adopters

The University of Colorado has shown how beneficial BYOD schemes can be in healthcare. The University purchased 34 iPads for use in the radiology department. Devices were loaded with apps, documents and textbook content.

The result: Residents spent more time reading, researching and spending time on educational activities than before the devices were purchased. Furthermore, the residents liked using the devices and found that they could save time and access information quickly when they needed it. The university had a very small outlay, yet greatly benefited from happier staff and improvements in efficiency and productivity.

Author: Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson is the Editor-in-Chief of