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The pros and cons of BYOD (bring your own device)

This post is sponsored by Sprint and is the sixth article in a 12-part series on mobilizing healthcare for improved communication. Though it’s common for a doctor to use an iPad Mini to send a prescription to the pharmacy or whip out an Android smartphone to look up the latest medical research, have you ever […]

This post is sponsored by Sprint and is the sixth article in a 12-part series on mobilizing healthcare for improved communication.

Though it’s common for a doctor to use an iPad Mini to send a prescription to the pharmacy or whip out an Android smartphone to look up the latest medical research, have you ever wondered who owns the device the doctor is using?

The most likely owner is the doctor’s employer, such as a hospital or healthcare company.1 But there’s a growing trend in healthcare of allowing doctors and other medical providers to use their own gadgets in the workplace.2 That certainly complicates matters, as doctors might be sending and receiving, on devices they own, protected patient information the hospital owns.

There are pros and cons to the BYOD trend – and those benefits and drawbacks don’t always align between doctors and providers (the users) and the hospitals and companies (their employers).1 Let’s explore some of the major plusses and minuses to BYOD:

The Pros of BYOD

From a user perspective:

  • Choice – When doctors get to use their own devices in the workplace, they’ll choose exactly what works best for them.1
  • Familiarity – Familiarity with the device means doctors are more likely to use them – and won’t need to be trained in how to use them.1 After all, it’s not always simple for an avid Apple user to transition to a Blackberry.
  • Control – Doctors are in control of the applications downloaded, used and deleted on their devices.1

From an employer perspective:

  • Cost – When hospitals are faced with buying thousands of devices for employees, choosing instead to let the employees use their own devices would represent a significant cost savings.1
  • Use – Since doctors are more likely to use devices they’re comfortable with, hospitals would see higher adoption rates and user satisfaction if employees could use their own devices at work.1

The Cons of BYOD

From a user perspective:

  • Cost – While BYOD would save hospitals money, it would mean more costs for their employees.1 Doctors and other providers would be responsible for paying the fees associated with devices they use on the job, such as buying the device and maintaining the service plan.1
  • Security – Even more burdensome for the users could be their responsibility to secure devices they use on the job.1 For doctors and other medical professionals, this would mean ensuring that any communication on the device is HIPAA compliant.3

From an employer perspective:

  • Control – When the device is owned by the doctor, the hospital relinquishes control even though the information being accessed and shared on the device is a hospital asset or, in some cases, patient owned.1
  • Security – Hospitals would need to determine how doctors could access and share information on their own devices confidentially.1 After all, the hospital is responsible for that information.1 These are the types of security issues that keep hospital CIOs up at night.1

Depending on your perspective, doctors’ use of their own smartphones and other devices has its advantages and disadvantages. One thing everyone can agree on is that this BYOD trend will be here for a while.

Read the first four articles in this series:

The value of communication coordination among the care team 

What are the best ways to handle care transitions?

The communication pitfalls of multidisciplinary approaches to treating patients

The five worst things about being a doctor (from a tech perspective) 

5 best smartphone advances for doctors in the past 5 years

                                                                                                                                                 

1. Jamie Brasseal and Mike Detjen of Mobile Heartbeat granted permission for all of their direct quotes and indirect quotes to be used in this article. Interview date: Jan. 16, 2015.

2. ‘Bring Your Own Device’ Movement Comes to Healthcare, http://healthcare-executive-insight.advanceweb.com/Medical-Imaging-Solutions-Center/Features/Articles/Bring-Your-Own-Device-Movement-Comes-to-Healthcare.aspx, Nov. 4, 2013.

3. Summary of the HIPAA Security Rule, http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/srsummary.html, March 12, 2015.