Sprint aims to build on the increasing use of personal mobile devices in health care by targeting its new bring-your-own-device management platform to hospitals and large physician practices.
The company announced Aug. 27 that it would offer BYOD management along with Vision Wireless, which specializes in mobile-device and telecom-expense management. The two companies will work with customers such as hospitals to devise policies on managing personal devices in the workplace.
Sprint's BYOD management solution is part of the company's Professional Mobility Services, which enable businesses to manage and secure a diverse mix of devices in an enterprise from multiple carriers.
BYOD is a fast-growing trend in health care. A Feb. 21 survey by mobile networking company Aruba Networks revealed that 85 percent of hospital IT departments allow doctors and staff to use personal devices at work.
"It's certainly becoming much more the norm than the exception, and to that degree, there's tremendous interest on behalf of our CIOs in understanding how best to manage a BYOD environment," Julee Thompson, Sprint's chief health care executive, told eWEEK.
With health care organizations faced with regulations on protecting patient information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the security and privacy aspects of mobile device management are key, Peter Parish, senior product marketing manager at Sprint, told eWEEK.
As a turnkey platform, the BYOD management solution allows a service provider to handle multiple tasks, including defining a hospital's compliance policies, provide mobile-device management and security, allow for workers to be reimbursed for devices and services, create reports on the use of personal devices and offer a Web portal for doctors and clinicians to register their personal devices.
By supporting BYOD, health care organizations can manage a mix of company-provided pagers as well as personal devices such as smartphones and tablets, said Thompson. She described the need to manage these multiple devices as a "tool-belt effect."
In addition to doctors and patients using their personal devices, patients also want to connect to a hospital's network. Doctors want to be able to use one device and need to manage smartphones and tablets from multiple carriers.
With doctors able to use their own devices, they'll have more flexibility on the types of mobile apps they can use, Parish suggested. Health care applications include remote-monitoring apps that let doctors track vital signs such as blood glucose levels and heart rates remotely.
Hospital IT managers will need to take these specific needs into account when devising BYOD policies, said Thompson.
"That all starts with first of all understanding who [is] requesting to use their own devices and really getting the policies and the governance structure in place so they can effectively manage [those devices]," she said. "They need to make some decisions relative to are they going to have choice of devices, and are they going to require contracts between the employee and themselves on using the devices?" said Thompson.
Consulting a provider such as Vision Wireless can help a health care organization tailor their device-management policies, she said.