Smartphones, Tablets Increasingly Important to Health Industry

Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed said laptops are their device of choice, but 85 percent are considering or definitely thinking about deploying more mobile devices.

Tablets and smartphones are fast becoming an indispensible part of hospital and home health agency services, according to a survey of nearly 200 health care executives by enterprise mobility management (EMM) software developer NetMotion Wireless and B2B media company FierceMarkets.

The vast majority (93 percent) of respondents said mobile deployments were either extremely or very important to day-to-day operations. These mobile devices, especially tablets, help workers in the field deliver patient care more efficiently and give home health agencies centralized control over how caregivers deliver services.

Nearly 90 percent of respondents said laptops are their mobile device of choice, but 85 percent are "considering" or "definitely thinking about" deploying more mobile devices.

Tablets are the most popular choice, with 66 percent of respondents considering them, followed by smartphones, with 32 percent considering them. The report revealed 79 percent use tablets, and the use of smartphones was close behind, with a 68 percent adoption rate.

When deciding what types of devices to give clinicians for mobile use, 54 percent said the number and type of applications that the device supports drive the decision and 46 percent said compatibility with the existing corporate infrastructure is the main driver.

"The home health industry is clearly enjoying the benefits and doing their best to manage the challenges of extending tablets and smartphones to hospital and home health workers," Tracy Crowe, director of product marketing with NetMotion Wireless, said in a statement.

Half of respondents cited patient data security as their top concern, as compromises to network security and accidental access to patient data when the clinician or employee uses their own device can lead to costly HIPAA violations.

More hospitals and health systems (48 percent) use a mix of personal and corporate devices; although a pure bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy is rare—only 7 percent of respondents had one, according to the survey.

Among the most important security measures for a personal mobile device are password protection, data encryption and the ability to remotely wipe the device clean if it’s lost or stolen.

"We only allow personal device use if all three are in place. The encryption gives us a free pass if the device is lost or stolen, but is not useful unless the device is password-enabled," John Halamka, M.D., chief information officer for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, noted in the report. "Any password can eventually be guessed, so that’s not useful without the auto wipe capability."