Healthcare News & Insights

BYOD in hospitals: What you need to know

Personal mobile devices in hospitals present a problem for many executives. Although there are many potential security risks, staff increasingly want to use their own smartphones, tablets and laptops for work purposes. 

The concept of BYOD, or bring-your-own-device, has gained traction in many hospitals. Here’s where other hospitals stand, according to Spok’s recent survey of 350 healthcare providers.

Who’s using BYOD

Up from 58% in 2016, 71% of respondents said some form of BYOD is allowed in their hospitals. For those who aren’t allowed to use their own devices, 41% of nurses and 63% of physicians say they use personal devices for work anyway.

A majority of nurses (59%) prefer to use hospital-issued devices, while a majority of physicians prefer to bring their own.

Physicians, IT staff and nurse practitioners use BYOD the most. Transport staff, housekeeping staff and nurses use it least.

Why BYOD?

So what’s the big deal with BYOD anyway?

The main reason hospitals are allowing clinical staff to use their personal devices for work is communication. Personal devices allow care team members to communicate quicker and easier, since they’re already comfortable with their own devices.

However, BYOD usage can also negatively impact team communication, since personal devices may not have access to on-call schedules or staff directories to help providers find the folks they need.

Other reasons why BYOD has become so popular include the cost savings of not providing hospital-issued devices, the time saved for users and response to physician demand. Most staff members are already bringing their personal devices to work anyway, so why not use them?

Drawbacks for hospitals

As you might expect, the top concern for hospitals regarding personal device usage is data security. Personal devices may not have the same security features as hospital-issued ones, and when people take their devices home at the end of the day, patient data could be compromised.

Another drawback: Many hospitals have inadequate Wi-Fi and cell coverage throughout their facilities, which can cancel out the time-saving benefits of BYOD.

What others are doing

Whether your organization is one of the few remaining holdouts against BYOD or it’s been on the BYOD train since the beginning, understanding what most hospital BYOD policies include can help you shore up gaps in your own guidelines.

Almost all policies cover the security of devices, and 75% provide guidance about what kinds of devices are supported (e.g., smartphones, tablets).

More than half of the policies cover which brands and versions (iPhones, Androids) are supported and the consequences for not complying with the guidelines. And 53% of policies rule on whether the hospital pays for cell and data plans.

Most hospitals are moving toward BYOD allowances of some kind, and chances are your organization will follow suit if it hasn’t already. Be aware of the benefits and risks to keep patient data safe and ensure the highest level of patient care.

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