BYOD: Is Mobile Device Management The Answer?

With so many doctors bringing their smartphones and tablets to work and patient data breaches reported all the time, IT managers need to make the right choices.

Paul Cerrato, Contributor

November 19, 2012

2 Min Read

For those healthcare providers that do require native mobile apps for their physicians, several vendors offer MDM platforms to address security threats.

Bob DeLisa, president of Cooperative Systems, a Connecticut-based IT support and consulting firm, offers some advice on choosing a system. He tells clients choosing an MDM tool to base their decision "on the age and scalability of your current infrastructure." DeLisa says to take a look at Meraki, for instance, when doing an infrastructure upgrade and server-based solutions like Good, MobileIron, or BoxTone if they've recently upgraded.

Many hospitals and practices prefer to install a custom-built BYOD solution, but those that want to go with an MDM vendor must weigh a long list of issues. Among the technical issues:

-- Which mobile operating systems do you need to support?

-- Do you plan to host the MDM system on your network?

-- What email system do your clinicians use, and will it be compatible with the MDM tool?

-- Will the MDM software enable you to remain HIPAA-compliant?

-- What are the software's lock and wipe capabilities?

-- Will you use the MDM tool to push out other apps that clinicians insist on using to manage patients?

Most of these questions are outlined in an Avema Critical Wireless Buyer's Guide, which Halamka mentioned in a recent email exchange.

George Brenckle, CIO at UMass Memorial Healthcare in Worchester, Mass., takes a different approach to BYOD. He prefers to focus on managing data rather than managing devices, which is one reason UMass has switched to a virtual desktop approach. With all of its sensitive patient data on hospital servers, there's no risk of breaches from stolen or lost iPads and laptops.

What about commercial MDM products? Brenckle says the challenge is trying to keep one step ahead of the rapidly changing mobile device ecosystem. "So you invest in one of these MDM tools and it's working well, and suddenly a new tablet or smartphone comes on the market that the tool isn't equipped to manage," he says.

BOYD isn't going away -- and why would we want it to? It helps clinicians provide better, speedier patient care and has no doubt saved lives on occasion. Once you find the right IT solution, it will certainly save you some sleepless nights as well.

Clinical, patient engagement, and consumer apps promise to re-energize healthcare. Also in the new, all-digital Mobile Power issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: Comparative effectiveness research taps the IT toolbox to compare treatments to determine which ones are most effective. (Free registration required.)

About the Author(s)

Paul Cerrato


Paul Cerrato has worked as a healthcare editor and writer for 30 years, including for InformationWeek Healthcare, Contemporary OBGYN, RN magazine and Advancing OBGYN, published by the Yale University School of Medicine. He has been extensively published in business and medical literature, including Business and Health and the Journal of the American Medical Association. He has also lectured at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and Westchester Medical Center.

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