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"Bring Your Own Device” Trend Hits Nursing

“Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is an established trend in technical circles, where a typically young and tech-savvy workforce has forced companies to accept that mobile devices are an ingrained part of their lifestyle. Those companies are well down the path of figuring out how to leverage the situation to their advantage.

Healthcare, on the other hand, is a bit late to the party. But as an article on Medical News Today makes clear, hospitals and other medical facilities are seeing a spike in the number of employees using personal mobile devices at work: in one report, 69% of hospitals claim their nursing staff uses personal devices on the job. And a recent survey by Fierce Mobile Healthcare revealed that 50% of health facilities said mobile device use was limited to email and calendar applications; 36% responded that employees used personal devices to access patient data.

Yet BYOD presents a mixed bag of opportunities and risks. Judith Church, DHA, MSN, faculty member in the health care and health care informatics programs at American Sentinel University,  believes that ultimately BYOD is good for patient care.

“RNs have greater familiarity with their own devices and the more familiar they are, the greater the tendency there is for nurses to optimize the use of the device to its fullest capacity for improved patient care,” she says.

But BYOD can present a challenge for IT departments. “The drawback to BYOD is that it contributes to a non-standardization of a work arena’s equipment,” says Church. IT departments will have to ensure that hospital software works on all four mobile operating systems (Apple, Android, Microsoft Windows, and Blackberry), and that security and HIPAA issues are addressed.

BYOD is like the proverbial genie that cannot be put back in the bottle: health care organizations will wrestle with the hazards of personal device use in the workplace, but ultimately BYOD will be harnessed for broad benefit.