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Health IT Leaders Struggle With Mobile Device Management, Security

Posted on January 30, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she’s served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

A new survey on healthcare mobility has concluded that IT leaders aren’t thrilled with their security arrangements, and that a significant minority don’t trust their mobile device management solution either. The study, sponsored by Apple device management vendor Jamf, reached out to 550 healthcare IT leaders in the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia working in organizations of all sizes.

Researchers found that 83% or organizations offer smartphones or tablets to their providers, and that 32% of survey respondents hope to offer mobile devices to consumers getting outpatient care over the next two years.  That being said, they also had significant concerns about their ability to manage these devices, including questions about security (83%), data privacy (77%) and inappropriate employee use (49%).

The survey also dug up some tensions between their goals and their capacity to support those goals. Forty percent of respondents said staff access to confidential medical records while on the move was their key reason for their mobile device strategy. On the other hand, while 84% said that their organization was HIPAA-compliant, almost half of respondents said that they didn’t feel confident in their ability to adapt quickly to changing regulations.

To address their concerns about mobile deployments, many providers are leveraging mobile device management platforms.  Of those organizations that either have or plan to put an MDM solution in place, 80% said time savings was the key reason and 79% said enhanced employee productivity were the main benefits they hoped to realize.

Those who had rolled out an MDM solution said the benefits have included easier access to patient data (63%), faster patient turnaround (51%) and enhanced medical record security (48%). At the same time, 27% of respondents whose organizations had an MDM strategy in place said they didn’t feel especially confident about the capabilities of their solution.

In any event, it’s likely that MDM can’t solve some of the toughest mobile deployment problems faced by healthcare organizations anyway.

Health organizations that hope to leverage independently-developed apps will need to vet them carefully, as roughly one-quarter of these developers didn’t have privacy policies in place as of late last year. And the job of selecting the right apps is a gargantuan one. With the volume of health apps hitting almost 260,000 across the Google and Apple app marketplaces, it’s hard to imagine how any provider could keep up.

So yes, the more capabilities MDM systems can offer, the better. But choosing the right apps with the right pedigree strikes me as posing an even bigger challenge.

The Value of Standardizing Mobile Devices in Your Healthcare Organization

Posted on February 10, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Before becoming a full time healthcare IT blogger, I worked doing system administration and top to bottom IT support (I am @techguy on Twitter after all). While that now seems like somewhat of a past life, it never ceases to amaze me how the lessons that applied to technology 10 years ago come around again 10 years later.

A great example of this is in the devices an organization purchases. I learned really early on in my technology career the importance of creating a standard set of products that we would support as an IT organization. This was true when ordering desktop computers, laptops, printers, and even servers. The benefits to doing so were incredible and most technology people understand the benefits.

You can create a standard image which you put on the device. If one device breaks you can easily swap it for a similar device or use parts from two broken down devices to make one that works. When someone calls for support, with a standard set of devices you can more easily provide them the support they need.

Another one of the unseen benefits of setting and sticking to a standard set of devices is you can then often leverage the vendor provided management tools for those devices instead of investing in an expensive third party solution. This can be really powerful for an organization since the device management software that’s available today has gotten really good.

What’s unfortunate is that the way mobile devices were rolled out in healthcare, many organizations forgot this important lesson and they’ve got a bit of a hodgepodge of devices in their organization. I encourage these organizations to get back to creating and sticking to a standard set of devices when purchasing mobile devices. No doubt you’ll get a little backlash from people who like to do their own thing, but the cost of providing support and maintenance for a potpourri of devices is just not worth it.

What’s been your organization’s mobile device strategy? Have you created and stuck to a standard device or do you have a mix of devices?