Nurses are increasingly using their personal smartphones on the job, but hospital IT departments are hesitant to support them on their networks, according to a new report by the Spyglass Consulting Group.
Released Dec. 3, the report, titled "Point of Care Computing for Nursing 2012," examined the bring your own device (BYOD) patterns of nurses in hospitals.
The mobile devices that hospitals do support, such as pagers and BlackBerry phones, have limited functionality, according to Spyglass.
The research found that 69 percent of hospitals have nursing staffs using their personal devices, a figure that indicates a significant BYOD trend, according to Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group.
Nurses use their own mobile devices to streamline productivity, improve the safety of patients and lower the risk of medical errors, the survey found. The clinicians use their phones for personal and clinical communications. Other uses include accessing clinical reference materials and social media sites.
For its report, Spyglass interviewed more than 100 nurses in acute care environments in the United States.
Of respondents interviewed, 95 percent indicated that their hospital IT departments were unwilling to support a BYOD initiative for nurses. Instead, hospital IT is pursuing physician BYOD programs, according to the report.
Hospitals would need to deploy comprehensive governance strategies to manage mobile devices on an enterprise level, Malkary told eWEEK.
"They not only lack the strategies but they lack the tools to manage and provision these devices," said Malkary.
Although nurses are encouraged to limit their use of personal smartphones to breaks, the devices are unofficially becoming a part of their workflow, said Malkary. Nurses are using their mobile devices for initial patient assessment and documentation at the bedside and to collect vital signs, he said.
A Nov. 13 Pew Internet & American Life project report revealed that 85 percent of U.S. adults now own a cell phone, and it's only natural that nurses would be able to adopt them, too, Malkary noted.
"If they support it for docs, it may open up the opportunity for nurses to use their own devices," said Malkary.
A more reliable wireless infrastructure will be required to handle the growing number of wireless users, devices and apps, according to Spyglass.
In addition, 25 percent of hospitals interviewed were unhappy with the state of their facilities' wireless networks, the Spyglass report revealed.
IT professionals have concerns about the cost of implementing mobile-device strategies, according to the second-annual report HIMSS Analytics, a division of the Health Information Management and Systems Society, released Dec. 3.
Meanwhile, 45 percent of clinicians are using mobile devices to collect patient data at hospital bedsides, an increase from 30 percent a year ago, according to the HIMSS Analytics report.
HIMSS Analytics interviewed 180 IT professionals in October and November 2012 over the phone and the Web.
In addition to smartphones, clinicians are using a large number of mobile apps, according to HIMSS Analytics. Half the IT professionals surveyed plan to increase mobile app use in their organizations within the next year.
Qualcomm Life sponsored the HIMSS Analytics report.