Personal mobile devices are becoming a fixture in health care as 85 percent of hospital IT departments allow doctors and staff to use personal devices at work, according to a new survey of health care IT professionals by Aruba Networks, a manufacturer of mobile networking infrastructure.
Aruba announced the results of its bring-your-own-device (BYOD) survey on Feb. 21 at the HIMSS12 health care IT conference in Las Vegas. The company interviewed 130 IT professionals working for its health care customers.
"Based on our conversations, they are feeling the pressure from the physicians and staff to support those devices," Manish Rai, Aruba's head of industry solutions, told eWEEK.
The survey showed that 83 percent of health care IT professionals allow iPads on their enterprise networks and 65 percent support iPhones and iPod Touch devices.
Meanwhile, 52 percent of hospitals support personal BlackBerry devices, which is a surprising data point, said Rai, who noted that other industries are not enabling access to personal BlackBerry devices as much as the health care industry is. "The BlackBerry still has a hold in health care," said Rai.
As for Android, 46 percent of the IT professionals surveyed allow enterprise use of the Google OS on personal phones or tablets.
The report also revealed that 58 percent of respondents are using virtualization technology to access applications on iPads, but only 8 percent of those surveyed provide complete access to their hospital network on personal mobile devices. In addition, only 24 percent of those interviewed by Aruba provide at least limited access to hospital applications.
Most health care organizations are offering the use of electronic health records on personal devices, with 60 percent of respondents reporting that their organizations allow EHR access on employees' own devices.
Only 30 percent of respondents support voice over IP applications or medical imaging on picture archiving and communication systems (PACs), according to the survey.
In general, IT administrators and business executives are embracing the BYOD phenomenon, according to a recent study by Avanade, an IT consulting and software firm. In addition, the federal government is allowing more personal devices, said a report by CDW Government.
"The responses in this year's health care mobility survey align well with what we are seeing in the field, Gerard Festa, Aruba's director of health care solutions, said in a statement. "While there is a lot of interest in BYOD and enabling mobility for applications hospital- or group-wide, most have just begun taking the first steps."
Hospitals will continue to embrace the use of mobile devices over the next year, and it will become routine in hospitals within five years, Festa predicted.
The Aruba survey also revealed that 76 percent of health care IT respondents allow patients and visitors to access the Internet on their personal devices. Meanwhile, 58 percent of the respondents lack password protection for patients and visitors.
On Feb. 21, Aruba also launched ClearPass, an access-management platform to enable organizations such as hospitals to automate and secure personal mobile devices. ClearPass allows iPads to access VPNs using a mobile tablet's WiFi or 3G connectivity, said Rai. The platform enables doctors and clinicians to securely access EHRs and PACs on mobile tablets, rather than being limited to basic Internet access, he added.
"Whether it's EMRs or PACsor if you're using a critical applicationwe can prioritize automatically," he explained, adding that ClearPass also automates guest access.
Hospitals also use Aruba's Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE), a context-aware platform that allows facilities to unify both their wired and wireless devices.
In another announcement on Feb. 21, Aruba rolled out a technical certification program for network engineers who need to secure personal devices in the workplace.