iPad Ranks As First Choice For Doctors But IT Still Nervous About Privacy Issues

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Healthcare was one of the first fields to adopt the iPad after it launched two years ago. As with other fields, the initial use of the iPad in healthcare came from doctors and other professionals buying their own iPads and bringing them into their practices or along with them on rounds – a move that predated most of today’s BYOD planning.

A recent study of mobile technology in healthcare clearly shows that the iPad is the number one device used by doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers with significantly greater use than Android or BlackBerry devices or even the iPhone.

“Based on our conversations, they are feeling the pressure from the physicians and staff to support those devices,” Manish Rai, head of industry solutions for Aruba (the company that conducted the study) said of the 130 healthcare IT professionals surveyed.

Overall the study shows the 85% of healthcare organizations allow and support the use of personally owned devices. The iPad is clearly the most common personally owned device with 83% of organizations supporting it. As for other devices:

  • 65% support the iPhone and/or iPod touch
  • 52% support personal BlackBerry devices
  • 46% support some version of Android devices

With physicians and other staff leading the effort for support of personal devices, it isn’t surprising that the iPad is topping the list. The device’s larger screen real estate makes it more useful for accessing data like electronic records, medical images, and reference material. It also makes the iPad a good choice for illustrating conditions and treatments to patients. It also presents less of a barrier to doctor/patient interaction that other electronic devices like laptops – a concern among some bioethicists.

How are mobile devices being used?

  • 58% are using virtualization technology for secure application access (this mirrors the overall high use of Citrix and other VDI solutions in healthcare due to the need compliance HIPPA and other privacy regulations)
  • 8% provide complete access to their hospital network on personal mobile devices outside of a VDI or similar solution
  • 24% provide some form limited access to hospital applications
  • 30% support VOIP calling (video or audio-only) or medical imaging on picture archiving and communication systems

The results definitely show that healthcare IT professionals are willing to support physician needs when it comes to mobile device, but that their is a distinct concern for data security and privacy – not surprising given the regulatory issues when it comes to healthcare.