Nurses using smartphones to fill IT gaps

More and better BYOD policies needed

More than two-thirds of hospitals surveyed for a new study reported that their nurses use their personal smartphones while on the job for personal and clinical communications. Still, IT support for those devices is lacking.

The report, from Spyglass Consulting Group, showed 69 percent of hospitals indicating that their nurses use their personal mobile devices. They're often used to fill in communication gaps with the technology provided by hospital IT departments – which some nurses find difficult to use and complain has limited functionality, researchers found.

"Hospital IT is concerned that personal devices on the hospital’s network pose a significant security threat to patient health information stored on the device or the network," said Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group. "Supporting nursing ‘Bring Your Own Device’ initiatives would require hospital IT to define comprehensive mobile governance strategies and to deploy enterprise-class tools to centrally monitor, manage and protect mobile devices, apps and data."

According to Spyglass' "Point of Care Computing for Nursing" report:

Nurses aren't using tablet computers. Ninety-six percent of hospitals interviewed believe that first-generation tablets weren't a good fit for bedside nursing. Specificially, it pointed to the iPad, which was hindered by issues related to durability, infection control, limited data entry and lack of native applications.

Wireless network problems persist. Twenty-five percent of care providers interviewed were dissatisfied with the quality and reliability of the wireless network within their facilities, the report found, with researchers finding that hospital IT must provide a more reliable and scalable wireless infrastructure to support an increasing number of wireless users, devices and applications required at point of care.

Spyglass officials say the report was derived from more than 100 in-depth interviews with nurses working in acute care environments nationwide, representative of a broad range of nursing specialties and institution sizes.

The interviews sought to identify the needs and requirements for point-of-care computing through discussions about existing workflow inefficiencies in accessing clinical information, current usage models for computing devices and solutions and barriers for widespread adoption, officials say.

Spyglass also evaluated key vendor product offerings and identified early adopter organizations that have successfully deployed point of care solutions.