BYOD is one of those "buzzwords" in health care that everyone is sort of tired of hearing about, however, the fact remains that many hospitals still struggle to support this basic expectation amongst mobile users today. The benefits of allowing your hospital staff, patients and guests to use their own smartphones, laptops and tablets in the hospital environment has been well documented; employees and patients are happier, more productive and receiving better care, all while lowering operational costs. But it's not all good news for hospital CIO's unfortunately.
Despite the success of BYOD and it's many benefits, there are still several major challenges associated with bring your own device. With all of those devices in one place not having the right strategy in place can have a significant impact on your wireless infrastructure, network security, and your bottom line.
Here are the major reasons your hospital wireless network may have been holding off on the support of BYOD and a few suggestions on how you can start.
Wireless Network Challenges
While supporting bring your own device might have the ability to help drive your operational costs down it also has the ability to create massive headaches.
Without effective visibility and control, these byod devices have the potential to be highly disruptive to your hospital's wireless network and the IT staff that support them.
Doctors and nurses will come to work with on average three or four devices, and all of them will expect to have access to the Wi-Fi network whenever they want it, possibly taking resources away from someone who might really need it.
In fact, CDW senior director and general manager Andrea Bradshaw said that,"The network impacts confirm that IT needs a systems strategy to accommodate mobility."
"Our research also shows that users and IT alike see room for improvement in the level and quality of support that IT provides for mobility today," she said.
As the surge of mobile devices into the workplace continues, new challenges will present themselves and IT departments will need to have the ability to adapt and scale it's on-going support of any new initiatives such as BYOD.
Security & Privacy Issues
Though there are many benefits to allowing BYOD in the hospital, there are also key inherent security risks, as well as privacy issues. When you let staff come in and use their own devices there are many potential problems:
- The risk of lost or damaged devices.
- Ensuring that the hospital's data and patient data will not be merged with an employee's own personal data,
- That patients and guests do not access any sensitive work data
- That all hospital data is secure once any BYOD enabled devices leaves the hospital environment
When starting to support BYOD it is important to start with your network security policies to make sure you are adhering to all of the required laws and regulations. The hospital will need to develop a coordinated BYOD policy, including IT, human resources and legal.
Suggested Reading: "Want a More Powerful BYOD Policy? Try these 6 Steps [Infographic]"
No BYOD strategy can be successful without a clearly defined and will planned BYOD policy.
The hospital Wi-Fi networks can use application-based MDM software to give employees the ability to access, read, and modify files on the cloud from their devices. This will allow the company to access files stored in the cloud, without being able to access the employee’s personal device, ensuring separation of data and preserving the employees’ privacy.
The True Cost of BYOD
BYOD has the potential to add significant savings to a hospital’s balance sheets as the cost of purchasing and managing the devices drops and employee productivity soars.
Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group said that companies could save as much as $3,150 per employee per year if they implement a “comprehensive” BYOD program.
The savings come from shifting costs to employees who Cisco estimates will each spend an average of $965 on their devices as well as $734 each year on data plans. The rest comes from estimated productivity increases.
However, the need for new security measures, network improvements and the cost of support may outweigh the savings if not done correctly or properly planned for.
The challenges of BYOD can actually increase spending to the point where BYOD will actually bring up overall costs without providing tangible benefits.
To avoid this, hospitals would need to factor in the cost of voice and data, development, management and support. They have to institute BYOD policies and be in tune with the challenges of managing BYOD.
Even with other potential solutions on the horizon such as beacon technology and RTLS, having a sound strategy for BYOD in place is a "must-have" and not a "nice-to-have" for every hospital in today's wireless landscape.
Hospital CIO's have to continuously plan ahead and understand what they're trying to accomplish. It's not about doing things overnight but creating a strategy that supports mobility today while being ready to grow with what's coming tomorrow.
At SecurEdge we've helped countless numbers of hospitals implement and support a strategy to support BYOD, if you have any questions about your current wireless network or BYOD simply contact us here, we'd love to chat with you.