Last Thursday I read a short little post from iMedicalApps, Hospital IT cite Doctors using iPad for work as their biggest headache, which led me to a slightly longer post on Forbes, Doctors Love the iPad. But What’s the Prescription for Tablet Security? Basically, the iPad and smartphones have created a paradigm shift for hospital IT departments.
Hospital IT departments must focus on data security and until recently that was primarly related to devices owned and maintained by the insitution. Sure there were probably doctors who rounded with their laptops but the number of those were small compared the recent explosion of doctors making rounds with iPads, smartphones, and tablets.
“As iPads spread virally throughout the healthcare industry, IT chiefs are left wondering if these new devices will compromise the security of their organizations. After all, it introduces a fundamental shift in the way we manage-or rather, relinquish managing-the endpoint. We are entering a world with more lightweight endpoint devices and more heterogeneous operating systems, and since these devices are often owned by the employee the IT team does not have control over the software running on these devices.”
“Relinquish managing the endpoint,” perhaps it is just me but this reminds me a bit of libraries as online databases and ebooks and ejournals become more accessible to people. Remember a time when you had to put the phone handset into the modem to get on to Medline? Once librarians were the keepers? or maybe a better word should be the the finders of information. People had to come to us for information, we managed the endpoint of information for patrons. Now that information is easier to come by online and users are finding it themselves our role has/must evolve.
Now we don’t have to deal with patient data or network security, but hosptial IT departments are experiencing some of the same control issues with access to information that we went through. It will be interesting to see how they evolve. For some IT departments it will be a bigger shift than for others. How big of a shift not only depends on the culture of the department and the hospital network. The security system must be able to deal with mobile devices but so must hosptial applications including the older ones that every hospital seems to have and rely on in some way. As John Smith commented on the Forbes post, some older Windows systems don’t work with these new devices. On his own blog, John’s post Extending the Rudder goes into more depth about the security, mobile platforms, and thin computing.
The horse is out of the barn folks, now let’s see which hospital IT departments evolve and which ones don’t. Technology has forced many professions to evolve, including the ones born of technology.