Monday, January 30, 2012

BYOD: Physicians' Use of Mobile Devices Seen As Improving Care, but Bringing New Risks

Attorneys Mike Overly and Chanley T. Howell of Foley & Lardner LLP discuss the ways in which personal mobile devices will influence healthcare delivery

Physicians' use of personal mobile devices to treat patients could improve efficiency and reduce cost to providers, but also could pose liability and security risks, attorneys with Foley & Lardner LLP said Jan. 23 during a webinar hosted by the law firm.

Speaking at Foley's webinar on “Emerging Issues in Health Information Technology,” attorneys Mike Overly and Chanley T. Howell, partners at Foley & Lardner, identified how new mobile device trends could both benefit and hurt health care organizations.

On the benefit side of the trend, use of personal devices, such as smart phones, iPads, and other mobile devices, allows physicians to be in communication 24/7 with patients and other physicians, and enables “tremendous” cost savings, Howell, with the firm's Jacksonville, Fla., office, said.

For some hospitals or physician practices, allowing the use of personal mobile devices also can give the organization a competitive business advantage, Howell added.

According to Howell, this growing “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend should be addressed by health care organizations immediately by drafting policies that are easy for employees to understand and anticipating issues that could arise in the future.

Liability Risks
Despite the benefits, liability risks associated with employee use of personal mobile devices are increasingly becoming an issue that needs to be addressed by new health care organization policies, Overly, with the firm's Los Angeles office, said.

According to Overly, the BYOD trend could create liability risks due to:
• personal devices mixing business and personal data;
• risks to information security in personal devices;
• software licensing issues;
• risks associated with shared use of a device with nonemployees; and
• potential risks of an employee disposing of the device inappropriately.

Additionally, mobile device applications used in health care settings that are created by international companies also could pose risks to physicians and consumers, because international data use agreements are different than domestic data use agreements, Overly said.

January 30, 2012

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