Guest post by Jason Thomas, CIO and IT director of Green Clinic Health System, and Dell Software solutions user.
Across the healthcare landscape, organizations are expected be in complete compliance with all security and privacy policies on all devices – even personal devices brought in by doctors, nurses, clinicians and administrators.
Being compliant involves many things, including training staff, revising business agreements, modifying policies, staying up-to-date on the newest technologies and updating notices of privacy practices as new regulations go into effect – such as the HIPAA Omnibus Final Rule.
While most of the industry’s current compliance strategies are focused on maintaining privacy and protecting patient data, the more recent addition of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) brings a whole new level of complexity into the compliancy equation.
David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, recently stated, “BYOD strategies are the most radical change to the economics and the culture of client computing in business in decades.” He added that the benefits of BYOD include creating new mobile workforce opportunities, increasing employee satisfaction and reducing or avoiding costs.
At Green Clinic Health System, established in Louisiana in 1948, we have experienced all of the aforementioned advantages — and more — from our efforts to embrace BYOD. As a result, we have transformed our patient care delivery by improving the access, sharing and protection of vital electronic health records (EHR). By enabling BYOD solutions and leading-edge technologies throughout our hospital, clinic and six satellite locations, Green Clinic has successfully empowered end-to-end enterprise mobility.
During our deployment of BYOD and accompanying endpoint systems management solutions, Green Clinic learned many lessons that can help other organizations similarly reap the benefits of BYOD and mobility while ensuring the highest levels of patient care. Top on the list are how to:
- Improve access to vital electronic health records,
- Create a secure and protected environment, and;
- Continually look for ways to future proof your organization.
Improving access to medical records
Every healthcare IT executive’s overarching goal is to enable safe and transparent access to patient files and medical records. While it can be a challenge to create an open, agile IT environment to streamline EHR system deployment, the benefits extend beyond improving data access to lowering IT costs and complexity.
To ensure that your organization’s nurses, doctors and clinicians continually deliver the highest quality of patient care while still providing protected access to vital EHRs, it’s important to embrace leading-edge mobility and BYOD technologies. When we started down the path to empower our employees to use their personal devices, we developed a list of BYOD policies and guidelines to pair with their devices of choice. This gave everyone the freedom to choose their preferred device, which led to improved data access, sharing and collaboration without creating undue risk. As long as the policies and guidelines were followed, our IT team could provide the necessary measures to safeguard patient data properly.
Managing a secure environment, providing protected data access
It’s likely your IT team relies on solutions to manage devices both on and off the network to meet HIPAA requirements for remote and onsite workstations. Is your system a true end-to-end solution? It was important for us to be able to proactively support and centrally manage our crucial EHR systems across Green Clinic’s physical and virtual environments. In addition, by leveraging technologies that automated most routine systems management tasks, we saved at least 20 hours a week on desktop management.
Also, by automating and consolidating activities, such as imaging, deploying and updating our desktops and laptops, Green Clinic was able to focus on elevating security across our entire environment, encompassing desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. This is increasingly critical because healthcare organizations can face fines of up to $1.5 million if patient data were to become compromised or stolen.
Future-proofing your organization
In healthcare, the ability to access information quickly and securely is essential to providing quality patient care. Therefore, it’s imperative to support a full range of refreshed hardware, software and services, so that when staffers bring in their newest mobile devices and tablets, you are prepared to secure them.
By future-proofing our organization, we provide greater freedom for our people while better supporting our EHR system. Every clinic has the ability to streamline its clinical EHR system. By automated the deployment of new desktops and laptops, Green Clinic saved about $20,000 in overtime costs. Time needed to provision devices has been cut in half, and machine rebuild times have been trimmed from hours to minutes.
Our mission to future-proof our organization is ongoing. In motion we have plans to further streamline our management of mobile devices. We look forward to the day—and it’s coming soon—when we can manage all our desktops, laptops and mobile devices seamlessly from a single system. We also look forward to seeing other healthcare organizations take the lessons we have learned and embrace BYOD without compromising security or compliance.