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BYOD Healthcare Policy

Are BYOD Policies in Healthcare a Mistake?

“BYOD” stands for “Bring Your Own Device,” and its potential implementation is a conversation being had in many workplaces, schools, industries, and hospitals.

In theory, it’s an effective cost-cutting measure: everyone is walking around with an advanced, mobile touchscreen computer in their pocket at all times. Why not leverage that ubiquitous technology, all the while saving the business some money on buying medical tablets for every employee?

While BYOD policies sound great on paper, are they actually effective? Do they do more harm than good?

Personal Devices Are a Hornet’s Nest of HIPAA Violations

The greatest flaw in any BYOD policy is almost always security — how do you ensure that the phone a staff member carries at home, at work, and out to the club is protected? How can you guarantee that the employee is always logging out of work applications, especially if they take work home with them as part of their job? Lines become even blurrier, and confidentiality suffers.

Imagine a doctor or nurse snaps a quick picture of an injury on their cell phone for later reference or sends it to another clinician for a second opinion. Even if the patient consented to this, is the text message software secure? Is the receiving phone or device secure? What happens if either is hacked or stolen?

Are all pictures snapped by the phone automatically backed up to the cloud? Some users may not realize this happens automatically, depending on the phone’s settings. Is the staff member’s Dropbox or iCloud shared with anyone else? How encrypted is it? What other, non-secure device is the cloud service backing up to? A home computer, a bedside iPad, a husband or wife’s laptop?

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to images. Ask yourself all of these questions regarding a text or email about a patient’s condition or personal details to another clinician. Think about what note-taking software is being used on the phone, and where that’s stored. Some staff members may record their thoughts or case reports into a phone recorder app, which may be backed up to the cloud or other, less secure devices.

Does the user even have a password on their phone or tablet? According to the “Consumer Security Risks Survey” from Kaspersky Labs, only half (53%) of mobile users have a security solution installed on their smartphones. And 20% weren’t even aware that mobile malware existed.

Each one of these avenues is a potential HIPAA violation, which can cause an individual or a branch thousands of dollars in fines and potentially more in active lawsuits.

Consider the Liability

Mobile devices get stolen or misplaced all of the time. Unlike dedicated hospital medical tablets,  a staff member’s personal cell phone or tablet is going home (or out) with them. And considering that 44% of smartphones were stolen in public places, and 14% from burglarized houses, the odds of losing their phone increase dramatically if they take it from the workplace.

If the device gets dropped or stolen at work, is the hospital liable? If the policy requires that staff bring their personal devices instead of using hospital-provided medical computers and medical tablets, there’s an argument that could be made. An argument that probably would be made, by an attorney.

Before implementing a BYOD policy, make sure employees know what’s required of them and what the liabilities are. Having employees sign documents that codifies this policy — to legally protect the hospital — will be job one.

Can Personal Devices be Managed by IT?

The IT department at a hospital or medical office (or, really, any facility or industry) performs a whole host of important jobs.

They maintain computer hardware and software, set up and manage the network, and ensure that data is protected and secure, just to name a few.

Devices that are officially owned by the hospital can all be managed with IT network software. Hospital or office-owned medical tablets are constantly under the watchful eye of the IT department. The IT team also keeps all device software updated to prevent bugs and known security breaches. They install anti-virus and firewall software on managed devices, and ensure that those programs are working and up to date.

Installing, troubleshooting, and maintaining all of these processes often requires that the tech have hours of access to the medical computer in question. With a BYOD policy, tech access to someone’s personal cell phone is extremely limited, if it’s even allowed.

Sometimes, due to liability concerns, the tech may have little to no access at all. This turns the individual user — a doctor or nurse — into the primary tech for their own device. And, unfortunately, many don’t have the time or aren’t up to the challenge.

This neglect or misunderstanding can lead to software patches not being installed and lax anti-virus maintenance, which can open up huge security holes for any device or network.

A SecureEdge Networks report indicated that as it stands, 80% of all BYOD devices are completely unmanaged by the IT team. Compare that to the standard practice of managing all medical tablets and computers in a facility, and the vast security gulf becomes more clear.

BYOD Policies Lack Standardization

Even with the proper policies in place, and a secure environment for users to log into confidentially, there comes the most frustrating feature of BYOD policies: lack of standardization.

The medical tablets and other medical touch screens purchased by the hospital typically come from the same vendor, and are running the same operating system and even use the same parts. This standardization allows IT to choose software and hardware peripherals that work with any device in the hospital.

With hundreds of unique personal devices, things get dicey.

While staff members may enjoy the familiarity of their own devices, that doesn’t mean productivity is necessarily increased across the board. When staff members have devices from a dozen different manufacturers, with different operating systems (on different versions, with different patches), trying to make software and communication work is no easy task.

Hospital apps, messaging services, and secure hospital data vaults have to be compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, and manufacturer-specific tablet OSes. Frequently used website portals must be compatible with Chrome, Safari, and half a dozen other mobile browsers.

And, most importantly, if there is a conflict, the IT department is responsible for maintaining access across dozens of different platforms and browsers. Assuming the policy even allows IT to maintain the BYOD devices, that puts a huge strain on the tech team.

To BYOD or Not to BYOD

According to an extensive study by the Ponemon Institute released in 2016, data breaches are a constant problem for almost every hospital.

In their study, they found that “nearly 90% of healthcare organizations…had a data breach in the past two years.” They then went on to report that “45% had more than five data breaches in the same time period.” Considering that the average cost of a data breach is somewhere upwards of $2 million dollars, the math speaks for itself.

BYOD policies are not without their benefits — they’re excellent short-term solutions, especially for facilities that don’t have the budget for as many dedicated medical tablets or computers as they need. BYOD has been known to boost morale, and when implemented properly can increase communication.

However, most of the studies that found this data looked at standard businesses who don’t have to worry about the stringent confidentiality and security requirements of HIPAA.

Still, with HIPAA violations costing companies like Anthem over $16 million, healthcare can ill afford to play it fast and loose with potential security breaches.

Contact Cybernet today to learn more about creating a secure network of purpose-built medical tablets and medical computers in your facility.

 

Medical grade computer with EMR

EMR Software Overview: The Cybernet Advantage

Over recent years, a number of innovations have changed the way each person perceives the established healthcare model. In the past, the delivery of healthcare services focused on the role of the physician or healthcare service provider. Now, that has changed. The use of electronic clipboards, medical all-in-one computers, and medical tablets within hospital settings has presented a new way of accessing healthcare services. Now, the focus of the healthcare industry has changed to a degree where the patient has a more active role in the delivery of healthcare services. At first glance, observers may be quick to pin this development on the use of electronic devices. A closer look reveals that Electronic Medical Records software is really responsible for an increased amount of patient involvement.

EMR Software

The question remains: what is an Electronic Medical Record and how does it affect the healthcare industry? If you are familiar with a patient chart in your physician’s office, then you have a good idea of what an EMR is. An EMR is basically a digital version of a patient chart. Medical practitioners and patients can access an EMR through the use of a computer for doctors that runs the software required process these files. The extensive use of EMR software impacts the healthcare industry in a transformative manner. EMR software allows physicians and patients to access records remotely. The need to be physically present to track a patient’s development has been eliminated. Let’s take a look at the other advantages made available through the use of EMR software that have changed the industry.

Epic Software EMR screenshot
Epic Software EMR screenshot

Disease Management and Monitoring

Patients with chronic diseases will find that the use of EMR software helps them to manage their conditions in an efficient manner. In cases where the patient is hypertensive, devices that are equipped with EMR software allow healthcare providers to track the blood pressure levels and blood glucose levels of each patient. Patients with diabetes can easily track their weight levels through the use of these devices. This provides the entire healthcare industry with the ability to track ongoing physiological developments in each patient case and perform a variety of analytics as the information is coursed through a computer or a medical tablet.

Cerner EMR screen shot
Cerner EMR

Remote Patient Monitoring and Assisted Care

In cases where patients have assistive living concerns, medical touch screens that are EMR certified allow physicians to work with the patient’s caregivers in a remote capacity. The task of monitoring the patient’s status no longer requires the physical presence of the physician. This is a measure that dramatically cuts back on cost. Some analysts have also been quick to note that there has been an increased rate of healthcare staff productivity because of the solutions that have been made available by EMR enabled devices.

Care Cloud EMS
Care Cloud Medical Software

Preventive Medical Care

The wearability aspect of devices that are equipped with EMR capabilities increases the capacity of patients and healthcare professionals to develop more preventive health measures. A continuous availability of data allows physicians to track physiological developments each patient case. This makes it easier to identify conditions that could potentially lead to more serious health concerns in the future. Tracking these indicators as they develop allows the physician to address the potential development of debilitating physical conditions and increases the ach patient’s quality of life.

The advantages that are available through the use of EMR equipped devices are clear. It should be noted that the features that are native to EMR software allow these devices to actually deliver these advantages in the first place. Here are some of the features that can be found in EMR enabled devices.

allscripts EMR software
Allscripts Medical Software

Charting Features

EMR devices have charting features that allow healthcare providers and patients to access records on any EMR enabled device. Through this feature, patients can fill out forms online in the of the healthcare organization’s preferred format. This allows the physician to have a patient’s health information before he can even come in for a checkup. As doctors fill up a form for lab, imaging, or medication orders, they can easily access the patient’s full medical history through the charting feature. The ideal of a paperless workplace gets closer to becoming a reality through the use of this EMR software feature.

Medical Prescription

The process of prescribing medication to patients has been changed through the use of EMR enabled devices. Now, physicians can manage requests for patient refills remotely with just a few clicks on their computer or medical tablet. Frequent prescription orders and access to pharmacies can also be saved on a physician’s device and pulled up whenever they are needed. In cases where several medications are prescribed, the prescription feature can allow the physician to check for drug interactions that may cause allergic reactions and other adverse effects.

Medical Lab Connectivity

Several medical laboratories use EMR software and this changes the healthcare industry’s rate of efficiency when it comes to service delivery. With several labs connected in a wireless capacity, a healthcare service provider can easily manage laboratory and imaging requests, obtain results from lab tests, and share results with patients remotely.

Patient – Physician Referrals

EMR software delivers a level of connectivity to such a degree that patient referrals are easier to make. From your all-in-one computer or medical tablet, you can easily refer a patient to another physician. This function also allows you to attach a copy of the patient’s chart for the other physician to peruse. A messaging function allows physicians to collaborate with members of the hospital staff in a seamless manner. Direct messaging functions also allow you to communicate with fellow physicians on the fly.

Billing Forms

Hospital administrators will enjoy an increased rate of productivity through the use of the EMR software’s billing function. If you already have a billing system in place, you can easily access these forms through the use of the new EMR system. If you haven’t decided on a billing system, contact the manufacturer of your EMR equipped device to determine which billing option best serves your configuration of needs and preferences.

Appointments

There are scheduling options available in these devices that allow healthcare practitioners to manage their workload efficiently. Even when you’re mobile, you can check your schedule on your tablet to prepare yourself for the tasks that await you in the hospital environment. The scheduling function also allows you to send appointment reminders to patients to prevent scheduling mishaps. A quick view of your weekly schedule also helps you to easily identify vacant periods that can accommodate new patient appointments.

EMR Software Vendors

All of these features make EMR software a practical tool for healthcare service providers to use. Before you begin purchasing devices equipped with EMR software, you need to familiarize yourself with the EMR software developers that currently dominate the market. Epic Systems Corporation is a popular choice for healthcare professionals. Epic enjoys the largest amount of market share, taking up 19.1% of the EMR landscape. Other EMR software vendors worthy of note are Meditech, CPSI, Cerner Corporation, and Allscripts. Make sure that the company that manufactures the devices you purchase is certified by at least one of these software vendors.

Cybernet Products

Purchasing Cybernet products allows you to address your EMR software needs. The features and specifications of Cybernet devices are backed by certifications from EMR software vendors. Epic, presently the biggest EMR software vendor, certifies Cybernet devices. The approved vendor list published by Epic even recommends the 24” and 22” devices that Cybernet manufactures.

EMR software has caused the healthcare industry to undergo a rapid and drastic transformation. The only way for you and your organization to maintain a competitive advantage in the face of these developments is to work with a company that can completely address your IT needs. It is clear that the developments surrounding EMR software will have long term effects on the healthcare industry. The use of EMR enabled devices is the surest way for you to adapt to the healthcare industry’s new standards.