What Entails a Healthcare Mobile Strategy? Part 3 – BYOD

Finally getting around to finishing my 3 part series on “What Entails a Healthcare Mobile Strategy?” by focusing this post on the devices that should be supported.  For several years now, the tech industry has been focusing on BYOD (bring your own device) for enterprise setting as an alternative way to increase employee productivity.  What often happens as part of these discussions is that there is failure to define the type of devices that should be supported under a BYOD program.  

Smartphones

Historically, BlackBerry’s have dominated the healthcare environment for their native security and was the primary means of access to mobile email.  With the introduction of the iPhone, healthcare now has a new standard device.  With the growth of Android world wide it may just a matter of time until Android is an accepted device.  

The question that needs to be asked, What devices should be supported by Healthcare IS?  The more type of devices the more complexity that can be added to mobility support.  For example, to support legacy BlackBerrys can cost approximately $25 a device per year for licensing.  In addition, there is additional overhead for server support for BlackBerry servers.

Now that all mobile devices have standardized on Microsoft’s Active Sync it is hard not to support all mobile devices.  The trick that faces IT is whether or not a device meets the security requirements required in healthcare.  The policy should focus on providing access to certain level of OS’s that meet these requirements.

However, based upon my experience for corporate devices, the suggestion would be standardize on a single device and re-evaluate the device of choice every couple of years.  

Tablets & Laptops

In some cases, tablets and laptops are easier to support from a BYOD perspective due to the ability to provide access to applications and virtual desktops via Citrix.  Most healthcare systems have been using Citrix solutions to deliver applications for years.  Now is the time to leverage this infrastructure to allow access from personal tablets and laptops.  Additionally, Citrix provides the level of security that is required by data security managers.

As with anything there is always a catch.  Recently, Citrix has been introducing changes to their clients that requires their specific infrastructure to work correctly.  While some may view this as a monopolistic move, it will be required to deliver access to personal devices.

Summary

Healthcare systems should try to support as many devices as they can by using the infrastructure that they most likely already have in place.  In addition, healthcare IT needs to be consistently reviewing BYOD as the market changes on a daily basis.