Transforming Patient Care with Highly Secure, Compliant Mobility and BYOD

Dr. Christopher Ray
Dr. Christopher Ray

Guest post by Dr. Christopher Ray, chief technology officer of Medical Information Records, creator of AnesthesiaOS, a cloud-based EHR solution for anesthesiologists and winner of Dell’s “Advancing Medicine” Healthcare Innovation Challenge.

Mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies are transforming all aspects of healthcare by enabling physicians, nurses and medical staff to improve the delivery of care while enhancing patient outcomes and safety.

The upsides are impressive: Fast, responsive, agile solutions that streamline healthcare workflows and harness big data to deliver smarter care and more personalized medicine. By enabling providers to use preferred devices and mobile cloud software, mobility can help transcend how electronic medical records (EMR) are captured, accessed and viewed.

When it comes to mobility and BYOD in healthcare, however, security and compliance must go hand-in-hand. In creating AnesthesiaOS, a fully mobile anesthesia information management system (AIMS), we focused on providing greater efficiency in practice management while ensuring the highest levels of safety and integrity for protected health information (PHI).

To that end, creating, achieving and maintaining compliance with both patient privacy and healthcare standards was accomplished by leveraging the following set of comprehensive best practices:

Protect, Identify and Confirm All Regulated Data

The biggest challenge healthcare organizations face today is preventing information from ending up in the wrong hands. Since protecting information is an overarching goal, it’s crucial to identify all regulated data that will be generated on, accessed from, stored on or transmitted by a mobile or BYO device.

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Lessons Learned Deploying a BYOD Solution

Jason Thomas
Jason Thomas

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.

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Effective Mobility Leads to Quality Healthcare

Effective Mobility Leads to Quality Healthcare

Guest post by John Moynihan, healthcare segment manager, Global Industry Marketing, Siemens Enterprise Communications and Randy Roberts, vice president, mobility portfolio, Siemens Enterprise Communications.

Technology in business today can seem like a zero-sum game. When the employees win, they are able to do whatever it takes to be productive. But doing that tends to tie the hands of IT, keeping them from locking down devices and services well enough to make sure their information is secure. This situation is becoming more common in the medical industry, with clinicians and computing staff often at odds over convenience versus security. Doctors, traditionally reluctant to adopt new technology or take any risks with tried-and-true methods for caring for their patients, have taken to mobility as a duck to water.

Because access to patient information allows them to better do their jobs, doctors in particular are quickly adopting tablets and smartphones. And while they’re not ignorant of the security risks of these devices, particularly the potential for patient information to be lost or stolen, their focus is on caring for their patients. In fact, even if their business doesn’t provide or specifically allow for mobility, they are bringing their own devices into the office.

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Deploying a Mobile Device Management Strategy in Healthcare or Elsewhere

Guest post by Marcus LaFountain.

A recent Ovum study showed that almost 60 percent of employees bring some type of mobile device into the workplace. There are a few names for this, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Bring Your Own PC (BYOPC), Bring Your Own Phone (BYOP), User Introduces Unsecure Device onto My Network and Then Loses My Secure Data (UIUDOMNTLMSD).

Alright, so I made that last one up, but that is how most IT managers feel when the discussion is started about BYOD. An end user bringing a device to work is both a gift and a curse for any sized company. We see an increase in productivity but also the increased threat of data being lost or stolen. Having a strong mobile device management (MDM) strategy can help companies reap the benefits of BYOD while limiting the consequences.

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Creating a BYOD Plan Protects Your Practice and Your Employees

Given the increasing popularity of mobile devices that continue to proliferate all areas of our personal and professional lives, clearly personal devices are going to show up in business settings and will be used to disseminate information with internal and external stakeholders.

Even if not an official piece of technology authorized for use in the workplace, their ease of use and availability make them attractive and affordable tools in the professional setting. Though most personal mobile devices not provided by an employer are allowed by employers because organizational leadership believes they lead to more productive employees who are “always on.”

Healthcare is no different. Mobile devices allow physicians to stay connected to their practices, like employees of all other businesses, and where available (as in, practices with systems that support mobile integration) connected devices allow care to be virtually administered from nearly anywhere. In the very least, notes and patient records can be reviewed while the care giver is out of the office or on call giving said care giver a head start on the case should a call come in.

On the other hand, savvy practices are realizing that some patients understand the value of mobile health. Practices are encouraging their employees to interact with patients using portable devices in the care setting. Patients who value mobile technology consider their providers innovative and ahead of the proverbial curve. Sometimes personal mobile devices may be used to accomplish this goal.

However, there are clearly inherent risks involved with blindly and openly accepting the use of personal devices in the workplace that many small businesses simply choose to ignore or overlook. Not because they feel invincible, but most likely because they just don’t know or understand the risks.

Jerry Irvine, CIO of Prescient Solutions — an IT consultancy — points out in a recent editorial for that the most prevalent security risk of mobile devices is that they will be lost or stolen.

According to Irvine, if a smart phone, for example, is stolen, all of the information on it is available to whoever holds it. In most cases, the personal phones don’t have identity-related security benefits to protect the information meaning all personal and business information can be accessed.

As Neil Versel tells in his recent piece, the devices, at some point will go missing. When they do, most affected organizations have little or no plan to prepare for the possibility that the information will be used maliciously. The obvious risk here, in healthcare, is the exposure of patient’s personal health information, cases we hear lots about when they occur.

Offering advice to businesses without a BYOD policy, Irvine provides a nice succinct list of musts that organizations allowing employees to BYOD must consider. Picking some of the high points here, you can see the complete list at the link above.

These steps may not protect you from every incident, but they do create a foundation for what may be an otherwise unscripted and unregulated program. And, putting these steps in place lets your employees know you encourage an environment where initiative and innovation are accepted, and perhaps even rewarded.