BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device, a policy adopted by many businesses allowing for employees to use laptops, cell phones and other personal devices for business use. For organizations without security concerns, it makes an attractive and easy way to get around existing hardware issues. BYODs can save money without reducing efficiency, while giving employees the ability to work remotely in many cases.
Those are powerful incentives. According to a recent article at HealthIT Plus, 71 percent of clinicians report at least some BYOD use at their facilities… sometimes despite policies forbidding them. Such use can come about as a simple matter of necessity, such as a doctor using her cell phone to access hospital records while filling out paperwork at home. Other times, BYOD use arises as part of a coordinated policy on behalf of the hospital, hoping for the same benefits that other businesses enjoy.
But BYOD policies run into serious issues when meeting the demands of a medical facility, and if administrators aren’t careful, it could end up creating more problems than it solves.
For organizations looking to remove BYODs from the equation, and thus solve the issues they can present, the right hardware is a must. Certified medical tablet PCs can often fulfill the same needs as BYOD devices, allowing administrative staff to cut a very thorny Gordian knot cleanly and effectively.
What kind of needs do medical tablets fulfill, and who do they solve the problems created by BYOD? Here’s a short list of some specifics.
Security Can Be Better Maintained with Tablets
Security is a significant concern with medical devices. A patient’s health records can be worth a great deal of money on the black market, even more so than credit card numbers in many cases. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, such data breaches have cost the healthcare industry over $6 billion per year. Obviously, proper security is vital to maintain electronic medical records (EMR) and other data. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) establishes rigorous standards for privacy and security, with heavy fines levied against those who can’t meet those conditions.
For example, the FDA estimates that half of the 3.4 billion mobile phone users in the world have downloaded at least one medical-based application. For medical personnel, that percentage is likely much higher. Medical organizations can ensure that such devices are HIPAA compliant and operating safely by implementing firewalls and unified threat management software to protect the network in the event of trouble. But BYODs rarely begin their service with such levels of protection, which means they need to be added before they can be considered safe. And when you multiply that potential across an entire organization – every cell phone used by every employee – the prospects for a major security headache multiply along with it.
Medical grade tablets owned and controlled by the organization, on the other hand, can use a single security system, as well as include integrated measures like RFID scanners and biometric readers which most BYODs lack. That not only permits the kind of security protections necessary to remain HIPAA complaint, but it allows staff to access them quickly and easily. And because the devices are dedicated solely to medical work, there’s no concern about overlap from a BYOD’s personal files. It provides better security in the event they are lost or stolen, since it can be much harder to access the data.
Medical Tablets Are Better Protected Against Germs and Illnesses
Illnesses are a constant concern in hospitals and medical facilities, and without proper care being taken, nosocomial infections (infections originating in the hospital and being passed through it) and similar threats can arise very quickly. Mobile devices can easily carry germs and viruses, since medical staff handle them regularly and even carry them from patient to patient. It’s a serious problem. According to the CDC, approximately 1.7 million patients are afflicted with hospital acquired illnesses (HAI) in the U.S. every year, and of those, approximately 99,000 are fatal.
BYOD devices are particularly vulnerable to this. Since they’re intended for consumer use, they lack antimicrobial protection. They usually can’t be disinfected either, since applying liquid to them can cause them to short out and become useless. And if they are used outside the medical facility, there’s no telling what kinds of illnesses can come piggy-backing in when a well-meaning staff member brings it to work.
Medical-grade tablets provide more formal protection against germs and illnesses. Antimicrobial properties baked into their housing helps them repel biological contaminants. In addition, tablets that are IP65 certified can be disinfected with liquid cleansers without running a risk of damage to the tablet itself, which further prevents the spread of illness in a hospital setting.
IT Headaches Go Up with BYOD
Cellphones, personal tablets and consumer PCs at home can come from almost anywhere and entail dozens of different models and systems. That can be a serious handful for your IT department, which needs to keep the devices in your organization maintained and operating. Even something as comparatively mundane as an iPhone update can wreak havoc in a medical environment with BYODs. That, in turn, can waste huge amounts of time and resources as the IT staff struggles to keep numerous different devices updated and coordinated.
Dedicated medical tablet PCs and similar portable devices simplify that issue considerably. An “in-house” system eliminates the morass of hardware and software in favor of a single model and OS. When problems arise, they can be dealt with swiftly. If updates are needed, they can be implemented across the entire network without having to make adjustments. That allows your IT personnel to do their jobs more effectively, and allows them to focus on other pressing issues instead of constantly trying to integrate a new phone or updated OS from a BYOD.
Cybernet Manufacturing offers an array of medically certified tablets and computers for use in a hospital setting. If you’re looking for a solution to the BYOD dilemma, contact us today.