A doctor uses a personal tablet to quickly access patient information and communicate with other members of a care team. Patients use their smartphones to entertain themselves and communicate with the outside world during their stay. Visitors work from their bedsides on personal laptops. Personal wearable devices monitor patient activity and health.
BYOD strategies – Bring Your Own Device – are gaining traction at hospitals as caregivers increasingly shun work-issued devices in favor of personal ones that are already comfortable and higher-tech. Using personal devices raises valid concerns about privacy and security, as well as the massive strain that connecting hundreds – and at large hospitals, thousands – of additional devices adds to legacy Wi-Fi networks.
But the age of digital connection is upon us: the average American owns at least eight internet-connected devices – and that number is projected to reach 13 by 2021. More than 70 percent of hospitals in a 2017 Spok study allow some form of BYOD – and at those that don’t, 41 percent of nurses and 63 percent of doctors say they use their personal devices for work purposes anyway.
Personal devices are becoming commonplace in the workplace and in many cases, they are the standard. Integrating them into a hospital environment involves complex issues related to security risks, boosting wireless networks, and the varying needs of different groups of staff. But many hospitals are realizing that the inevitability of unauthorized BYOD when policies are not in place – and the staggering numbers of patients and visitors trying to connect every day – means the need to do so can no longer be ignored.
Health systems that resist BYOD typically require employees to use hospital-issued devices. These devices have specific functions, including communication and data sharing. Their reach is limited to the hospital campus and they are easily locked and wiped clean.
This approach is generally embraced by nurses and support staff but rejected by doctors, who can’t access the information they need when they leave the hospital for their own office hours, to work at home, or to collaborate with specialists in other locations. As far back as 2013, Wolters Kluwer Health reported that 80 percent of physicians were using their smartphones for professional purposes.
In a field where instant access to information can be a matter of life or death, many caregivers insist that being able to use their own smartphones or tablets at work enhances the quality of care and creates overall efficiencies. Here are the four biggest reasons many hospitals are embracing BYOD:
Of course, there are some drawbacks that hospitals must consider before transitioning to a BYOD environment:
7SIGNAL supports BYOD strategies by eliminating one of the biggest challenges: unreliable Wi-Fi. Its automated performance management system allows hospitals to monitor and proactively manage end-user Wi-Fi experiences with unprecedented visibility into every corner of a network – no matter how remote.
7SIGNAL crowdsources Wi-Fi experiences from every smartphone, laptop, and tablet on your network, enabling you to instantly identify devices, floors, or buildings that are having trouble. Access to historical and real-time data allows you to quickly analyze these non-performing areas, discover the root cause, receive actionable suggestions for improving network performance, and take corrective action before anyone ever notices or complains. Trending reports quickly verify the impact of the changes you make to your network.
BYOD represents the future of hospital IT programs, as caregivers increasingly refuse hospital-issued devices in favor of their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops. These programs reduce costs, improve job satisfaction, and create greater efficiencies. But when legacy Wi-Fi networks can’t handle the significant increase in traffic, it eliminates many benefits and puts patient health and safety at risk.
7SIGNAL quashes the biggest barrier to BYOD success by enabling personal devices to easily connect at all times.
7SIGNAL offers Wi-Fi performance management solutions that ensure connectivity issues don’t prevent hospitals from delivering exceptional patient care. Contact us to learn about becoming a 7SIGNAL Connected Hospital.