Workforce mobilization becoming the new normal in healthcare

Although security is always a concern within healthcare organizations, many are opting into BYOD (Bring your own Device) programs to take advantage of several undeniable productivity and efficiency advantages. In one such example, CITEworld said the Mayo Clinic has rolled out many new mobile apps to help doctors review medical records in real time, find information about their colleagues and get expert advice instantly. With more than 15,000 devices supported by the institution, there's a significant surface area to cover with protective measures. But there is little hoping of curbing clinicians' appetites for these innovative utilities. 

Mark Henderson, the chair of Mayo's IT division, said all the devices used  are iPhones or iPads. While there are customer-facing apps by the Mayo Clinic for Android as well, he said the encryption offered by iOS made Apple devices the clear choice for employees.  The largest concern for Henderson, much like it would be for any other health IT administrator, is maintaining HIPAA compliance, according to CITEworld.

"One of the biggest and best decisions we made was the fact that we don't store any patient info on device," said Troy Newman, an IT specialist who oversees app development for Mayo, according to the news source. "All access is pulled down in real time. Once you hit the home button on the app, the data is off the device."

At the next stage of their mobile device management strategy, Mayo executives said they will extend the program to the nursing staff to facilitate faster frontline communications. 

There will also be updates to apps to allow for VPN-free browsing externally. They will also likely look to reduce the number of desktop computers they have in their facilities in an effort to save space and money.

Marc Kohli, MD, of Indiana University School of Medicine, said that BYOD is here to stay in the medical field, as 81 percent of all workers use mobile devices to access work online, which rises to 84 percent when it comes to healthcare workers. Diagnostic Imaging said Kohli told this to a crowd at the SIIM 20123 session, adding that there needs to be a culture shift from securing systems to making sure the data on the systems is safe as can be. He said security concerns must be addressed for these programs in order for the medical field to see the benefits flourish.

Mobile could save healthcare billions
It's no wonder why healthcare organizations have taken so quickly to the adoption of BYOD policies, as PricewaterhouseCoopers GSMA analysts expect mobile IT to save as much as $132 billion in the sector by 2017. As far as the European Union is concerned, there could be $123 billion added to the gross domestic product due to the use of mobile in healthcare by this time. The total annual per capita EU healthcare costs could be reduced by 18 percent and reduce transportation expenses for chronic patients by 30 percent through 2017.

"Better access to health care services and the cost efficiencies driven by mHealth will help EU economies deliver sustainable and effective healthcare systems," said Michael O'Hara, chief marketing officer at GSMA. "However, much more needs to be done by regulators and governments within the EU to incentivize, encourage and drive the adoption of mHealth for the benefit of all the region's citizens."

Other numbers from this PwC and GSMA report show: 
- Healthcare organizations could treat 24.5 million additional patients without more doctors or new facilities and help more than 18 million suffering from chronic conditions
- Regulatory barriers in the way of these new mobile healthcare initiatives could cut savings down to as little as $8.7 billion by 2017 with only $8.6 billion added to the EU's GDP

Consumerization News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro.

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