The question of whether employees should use their own mobile devices or devices supplied by the employer is a matter of debate in many hospitals. Some facilities are instituting bring-your-own-device policies and some are providing employer-issued mobile devices for staff. On both sides of the debate, the pros and cons are being weighed and evaluated by employers and employees alike, and at the center of it all is the question: What is best for the patient?
In our healthcare system there is more technology available than ever before, and because of the nature of nurses work, they are likely to be heavy users of mobile devices as they respond, intervene, communicate, consult and relay crucial information. With the days of waiting for a turn on the computer at the nursing station long gone, theyre also accessing clinical reference materials or verifying drug dosages at the point of care. Whether the devices belong to the hospital or to them, nurses have a professional obligation to use them in the safest and most secure manner possible to safeguard patient information and prevent any possibility of a breach of confidentiality or invasion of privacy.
Those who are pro-BYOD believe allowing nurses to use their own mobile devices will be less costly and will increase productivity because of nurses familiarity with their devices. On the other side of the debate is the belief that providing employer-issued devices is a safer, although more costly, alternative. Some question, however, whether employer-issued devices would ensure site security and protection of patient information and compliance with HIPAA laws.
While weighing these privacy and security issues, stakeholders also are looking at costs related to buying mobile devices for everyone and other concerns such as built-in obsolescence and the need to replace devices frequently, or the possibility of careless or inappropriate use by staff members.
For these and many other reasons, employers have been taking a hard look at what mobile device policy to institute. Our national story (www.Nurse.com/Article/Wireless-Revolution) examines some of the questions and concerns and offers answers from a number of healthcare leaders who are working to put the right programs, policies and procedures in place at their facilities.
Many additional questions have arisen in the effort to provide healthcare workers, chief among them nurses, with the best in mobile technology without in any way compromising patient privacy or the peace of mind patients deserve. Some of the other questions still out there include: Do the benefits of equipping all employees with mobile devices outweigh the costs? What would the added burden be on IT departments in facilities with a lack of equipment standardization? Would IT, for example, need to ensure that hospital software works as well for Android and Microsoft Windows users as it does for Apple users? Is information protected on each device as long as the employer site is secure? And how will the issues surrounding employees interfacing with the social media and the many new policies and procedures need to be handled?
As is the case with so many issues that involve nurses, we need to know the pros and cons surrounding this debate and get involved in the discussion. If having just one mobile device instead of four or five is the goal were all working toward, lets get together and get it done!