– Nurses Using Their Own Devices Must Keep Up With Employer Policies to Ensure Sensitive Information is Safeguarded –
AURORA, Colo. – June 11, 2014 – The bring your own device (BYOD) movement offers great potential to help nurses access medical information or respond to patients more quickly. But these diverse personal devices also create security and HIPAA patient sensitivity issues associated with mobile technology – including security challenges associated with wireless data transmission and remote printing.
“The BYOD phenomenon represents one of the greatest challenges for IT and administrative health care professionals because it’s both a technical and behavioral challenge that can impact future technological developments, says Kurt Linberg, Ph.D., provost at American Sentinel University. “If we look at health care history, new regulations tend to constrain productivity initially, but then as regulations, policy and technology improve there is more room for innovation implementation.”
Because smartphones and tablets feel like miniature computers, hospital employees have come to expect the ability to print from them, Dr. Linberg says that IT and administrative professionals will be continually challenged in making technical changes and ensuring required behavior modification of very busy health care professionals.
BYOD means that potentially sensitive data will be wirelessly transmitted over the hospital network – so this data needs to be encrypted to make it unreadable by outsiders.
“If I’m a busy health care professional, I’m trying to squeeze more time out of the day and I’ll be using my cell phone to quickly connect to a work portal, answer patient email and countless other things. I want to get the job done and I don’t want to have a barrier to my productivity,” says Linberg. “So the role of both the IT professional and the health care worker for safeguarding private and confidential patient data is critical.”
He says that the newer wireless technologies that provide long-range connectivity make encryption especially crucial. Otherwise, anyone within range of a non-encrypted network could gain access to it and hackers could potentially capture patient data.
When the transmission involves sending data to a printer, the printed documents themselves also raise a security concern and may be a security hazard. As an example, Dr. Linberg notes that when employees send a file to print, they must often choose from a long list of printers. If it’s not clear which printer is the correct choice or is in closest proximity to those receiving the document, the printed file may be left sitting at the printer for an extended period until it is picked up – making it vulnerable to being picked up or viewed by a person who is not authorized to access this data.
And finally, if the BYOD security procedures seem too cumbersome, there is the problem of unauthorized workarounds often thought up by innovative employees. “A doctor or nurse may attempt to squeeze more hours in a day by emailing a file to themselves or even storing a file on an unsecured flash drive to take home. Workarounds outside of a secured network can cause a data breach in any number of ways,” Dr. Linberg adds.
Although IT departments have a number of tools to help ensure data security on wireless networks, including encryption, passwords and passphrases and firewalls, he says that nurses should realize that security and privacy policies exist for a reason to protect data integrity and security and should adhere to them at all times when participating in a BYOD initiative.
Dr. Linberg says that nurses can play an important role in making sure security protocols are followed. “If a nurse is using a personal device, they need to make sure they are keeping up with all policies or guidelines that their employer mandates to ensure that sensitive information is safeguarded.”
In addition, he says that nurses with an informatics specialization can also help enforce security policies with fellow nursing colleagues. “When colleague breaches are noticed, encourage the person to modify their behavior. If it continues, then they need to inform their nurse manager or human resources.”
In order to make the necessary improvements in the health care delivery systems, Dr. Linberg says that health care must continue to improve and strengthen the use of information technology systems.
“I predict the initial BYOD guidelines may be a bit too prescriptive for some health care professionals and it will take both technical and behavioral solutions to evolve to a bit less prescription and more common sense.”
Health care is in need of nurses who can analyze technologies from both the bedside and security perspectives to help create workable patient-centric tools. Tech-savvy nurses should consider specializing in informatics. An online MSN degree in nursing informatics is the perfect way for a nurse to improve their knowledge, skills and value to their organization.
Learn more about American Sentinel University’s RN-to-MSN program.
About American Sentinel University
American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited online nursing degree programs in nursing, informatics, MBA Health Care, DNP Executive Leadership and DNP Educational Leadership. Its affordable, flexible bachelor’s and master’s nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission for the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The DNP program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). The Accrediting Commission of DETC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.