BYOD in EMEA – Part 4 – Five Best Practice Tips for Bring Your Own Device in Healthcare

I’ve looked at many aspects of Bring Your Own Device in healthcare throughout this series of blogs, from the costs of getting it wrong to the upsides and downsides, and the effects on network and server security when implementing BYOD.

I thought it would be useful to distil my thoughts around how healthcare organisations can maximize the benefits of BYOD into 5 best practice tips. This is by no means an exhaustive list but provides a starting point for the no doubt lengthy conversations that need to take place when assessing the suitability of BYOD for an organisation.

If you’ve already implemented BYOD in your own healthcare organisation then do register and leave a comment below with your own tips – I know this community will appreciate your expertise.

Develop a Bring Your Own Device policy

It sounds like an obvious first step doesn’t it? However, I’d like to stress the importance of getting the policy right from day one. Do your research with clinical staff, understand their technology and process needs, identify their workarounds and ask how you can make their job of patient care easier. Development of a detailed and robust BYOD policy may take much longer than anticipated, and don’t forget that acceptance and inclusion of frontline staff is key to its success. Alongside the nuts and bolts of security it’s useful to explain the benefits to healthcare workers to get their trust, confidence and buy-in from the start.

Mobile Device Management

It’s likely that you have the network/server security aspect covered off under existing corporate IT governance. A key safeguard in implementing BYOD is Mobile Device Management (MDM), which should help meet your organisation’s specific security requirements. Some of these requirements may include restrictions on storing/downloading data onto the device, password authentication protocols and anti-virus/encryption software. Healthcare workers must also be given advice on what happens in the event of loss or theft of the mobile device, or when they leave the organisation in respect of remote deletion of data and apps. I encourage you to read our Case Study on Madrid Community Health Department on Managing Mobile for a great insight into how one healthcare organisation is assessing BYOD.

Make it Inclusive

For a healthcare organisation to fully enjoy the benefits of a more mobile and flexible workforce through BYOD they need to ensure that as many workers as possible (actually, I’d say all) can use their personal devices. It can be complex but some simple stipulations in the BYOD policy, such as requiring the user to ensure that they have the latest operating system and app updates installed at all times, can help to mitigate some of the risk. Also I would be conscious of the level of support an IT department can give from both a resource (people) and knowledge of mobile operating systems point of view. Ultimately, the most effective BYOD policies are device agnostic.

Plan for a Security Breach

The best BYOD policies plan for the worst, so that if the worst does happen it can be managed efficiently, effectively and have as little impact as possible on the organisation and patients. This requires creation of a Security Incident Response Plan. Planning for a security breach may prioritise fixing the weak link in the security chain, identifying the type and volume of data stolen and reporting the breach to a governmental department. For example, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK advises that ‘although there is no legal obligation on data controllers to report breaches of security, we believe that serious breaches should be reported to the ICO.’

Continuing Assessment

From a personal perspective we all know how quickly technology is changing and improving our lives. Healthcare is no different and it’s likely that the tablet carried by a nurse today has more computing power than the desktop of just a couple of years ago. With this rapid change comes the need to continually assess a BYOD policy to ensure it meets the advances in hardware and software on a regular basis. The risk landscape is also constantly evolving as new apps are installed, new social media services become available, and healthcare workers innovate new ways of collaborating. Importantly though, I stress that the BYOD policy must also take into account the advances in the working needs and practices of healthcare workers. We’re seeing some fantastic results from improved mobility, security and ability to store and analyse large amounts of data across the healthcare spectrum. We cannot afford for this progress to be hindered by out-of-date policies. The policy is the foundation of the security and privacy practice. A good privacy and security practice enables faster adoption, use, and realisation of the benefits of new technologies.

I hope these best practice tips have given you food for thought. We want to keep this conversation about the benefits of a more mobile healthcare workforce going so do follow us on Twitter and share our blogs amongst your personal networks.

BYOD in EMEA series: Read Part Three

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David Houlding, MSc, CISSP, CIPP is a Healthcare Privacy and Security lead at Intel and a frequent blog contributor.

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