Magazine Article | March 26, 2013

A BYOD Backlash?

Source: Health IT Outcomes

By Ken Congdon, Editor In Chief,

This year, I had the honor of speaking at the 2013 HIMSS Conference & Exhibition. The focus of my presentation was the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend that is currently sweeping healthcare. My goal was to provide healthcare IT executives with the information necessary to establish a BYOD program that caters to employee demands while ensuring that corporate assets and health data are secure.

Following my session I stayed behind to answer questions from several healthcare providers in attendance. Many folks asked me for my opinion on the BYOD approaches they were taking. Others asked for my support in helping convince their senior executives to embrace a BYOD policy. However, some of my most interesting discussions were sparked when a few health IT professionals said they were holding off on embracing BYOD because they believed a backlash was imminent.

These providers believe that since the mobile device market is so fragmented, it is going to prove too difficult to effectively secure personally- owned devices from a variety of manufacturers based on multiple operating systems. These individuals believe security and data breaches will inevitably ensue as a result of BYOD, driving providers back to corporate-controlled mobile device initiatives based on Windows 8 or another standard mobile platform.

I couldn’t disagree more. One of the reasons I feel BYOD is here to stay is the fact that clinicians and other healthcare employees are the ones driving the trend. Unlike EHR adoption, where IT is often being forced from the top down as a result of federal incentives, BYOD is an uprising originating from the users themselves. This breeds mass adoption. To me, there is greater risk in ignoring BYOD or taking a “wait and see” approach. Because the demand to use personal smartphones and tablets on the job is so prevalent in healthcare, many users will find workarounds to use devices with or without IT’s permission, effectively exposing your healthcare facility to security breaches.

True, to date, there is no single “magic bullet” technology that will enable a healthcare provider to secure its BYOD environment. The key is to find the right balance of usage policy, wireless network security, encryption, antivirus software, virtualization, and mobile device management (MDM) tools to customize the most user-friendly and secure BYOD ecosystem for your facility. This effort will be instrumental in ensuring the effectiveness and success of your mHealth initiatives going forward.