The Bring Your Own Device movement struggles to gain traction in healthcare

The healthcare communication company Spok Inc. has released the results of its fifth annual bring your own device (BYOD) survey. The survey and its accompanying data are actually quite good, and the information generated from the report is insightful. But, like electronic health record installation news, BYOD coverage, while still important, doesn’t seem as cutting edge a topic or as divisive as it might have in 2013 or 2014.

Organizations around the world are accepting bring your own device and creating BYOD use and security strategies. For example, in 2017 BYOD is expected to grow from a $67 billion market to a $181 billion market with North America making up the highest percentage of BYOD adopters at 36 percent. That number is expected to increase to nearly 50 percent by the end of the year. Today more than 67 percent of workers use their own devices at work and as of 2013, 60 percent of companies had a BYOD-friendly policy.

By the end of 2017, more than 50 percent of workplaces will require employees to bring their own devices.

The details of the Spok survey seem to signal what the rest of the industry is seeing. For example, more than 70 percent of clinicians say their hospitals allow some sort of BYOD use, up from 58 percent in 2016, per the 350 healthcare leaders asked. Of those organizations that still don’t allow BYOD, the main reason cited was data security. Even so, 65 percent of doctors and 41 percent of nurses say they use personal devices even when hospital policy prohibits BYOD. But, for those that have BYOD, almost 60 percent of nurses and almost 40 percent of doctors prefer hospital-issued devices to using their own.

For those who enjoy the benefits of BYOD, physicians seem to find the most pleasure in it: 62 percent use it when they can followed by IT staff (54 percent), nurse practitioners (53 percent), administrators (49 percent) and nurses (43 percent).

Unfortunately, there are still challenges for BYOD. The top three being Wi-Fi coverage (54 percent), data security (52 percent), and cellular coverage (44 percent).

Statistics show a BYOD workplace is becoming the new standard, so it’s important to examine what advantages such mobility policies have to offer. Studies are finding that productivity, employee morale and accountability improve in tandem with reduced hardware and networking costs. But some other reasons come into consideration that make a valid argument in favor of BYOD in the workplace.

Cisco study found that 69 percent of IT decision makers were in favor of BYOD, viewing it as a positive addition to any workplace policy. One reason is because workers are saving at least 81 minutes of time per week by using their own devices.

From a business perspective, a Forbes report agrees, finding that nearly half of all workers polled feel they are more productive when they have their own device. This makes sense because a worker is familiar with their own device and its interface, decreasing the learning curve and improving usability.

BYOD is a smart move for cost savings, as well. Companies save an average of $350 per year per employee with a BYOD policy in place. Reactive programs can increase this savings to as much as $1,300 per year per employee, the study notes. For small and medium businesses, this cost savings can add up fast and can enable these businesses to better protect their bottom line.

However, given these gains, the Ponemon Institute's Sixth Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy & Security of Healthcare Data found about a quarter of healthcare organizations see BYOD as one of the most worrying security threats.

Scott Rupp's picture

Scott Rupp


Scott E. Rupp is a writer and an award-winning journalist focused on healthcare technology. He has worked as a public relations executive for a major electronic health record/practice management vendor, and he currently manages his own agency, millerrupp. In addition to writing for a variety of publications, Scott also offers his insights on healthcare technology and its leaders on his site, Electronic Health Reporter.

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