6 Reasons to Choose Secure Text Messaging for BYOD
April 07, 2016
The landscape of communication technology in healthcare has changed dramatically over the last few years. Slow adoption of new healthcare IT tools has led end-users to begin conducting business via personal devices and consumer apps. In fact a recent Spok survey indicates that 73 percent of hospitals now support bring your own device (BYOD) programs. The same survey revealed that the top reason for allowing BYOD was easier care team communication. Communication efficiency is also a primary business driver hospitals cite when they implement secure texting apps. A recent report on secure text messaging found that 60 percent of hospitals plan to implement secure text messaging within the next year.
These statistics show that BYOD and secure text messaging have both become very popular, but IT teams can run into challenges when attempting to support both in the same environment.
Among the many challenges is getting users to adopt the supported secure messaging app as a viable alternative to the consumer messaging apps they are accustomed to using. If I am using my smartphone for work-related communications, to some extent I expect to be able to use the apps that I regularly use on that device.
In many cases people prefer basic consumer messaging apps such as iMessage®. The challenge is that IT teams cannot sanction the use of these consumer applications in healthcare environments due to their lack of security and communication efficiency. However, it is difficult for IT to enforce the use of enterprise applications on personal devices.
Some healthcare organizations handle this dilemma by allowing restricted use of personally owned devices via a BYOD program as well as requiring an enterprise secure texting app. When implementing these policies, a hospital can make secure texting a requirement for transmitting protected health information (PHI), regardless of whether the transmitting device is owned by the individual or by the hospital. This strategy can be effective, as long as there is an alternative (many users will resist if they feel forced), such as using a hospital-issued device instead of a personal one. However, for hospitals choosing not to mandate the use of secure texting, it becomes essential to convince users that the secure texting on a personal device is a good idea.
Incentivizing a user to choose a secure texting solution for work-related messaging on a personal device is often not as straightforward as it may seem. Without clear incentives, some clinicians will hold fast to their old ways when sending messages, even if messages are known to contain PHI. To properly incentivize the user, we must mitigate any concerns related to privacy and cost and make sure that their experience will be better with enterprise secure text messaging than it would be with any other alternative.
Here are the top six reasons to choose secure texting for BYOD programs. These can be presented as talking points to users to help them understand why an enterprise secure texting application can be a great choice for messaging on a personally owned device:
- Enterprise secure text messaging applications offer access to your hospital’s directory for messaging, allowing you to look up any physician or nurse in the system without having to store contact information on your device. You can also look up on-call clinicians by role. Consumer messaging applications do not offer this and require you to build individual contacts for each person you need to reach. What happens when you need to reach someone who you don't have stored as a contact in a time-sensitive scenario? What happens when you have the wrong contact information stored for an individual? Effective secure text messaging apps prevent these scenarios.
- Secure text messaging applications help you keep your personal phone number private, by offering a system that is based on name look-up. Consumer messaging apps cannot enable this. When using most consumer messaging applications, you have to give your personal phone number out to anyone who needs to reach you. Secure text messaging solutions help you protect sensitive details like this.
- Secure text messaging applications offer status options, so that you can make yourself unavailable when you're on vacation or not on call. Not all consumer apps offer status options, allowing others to send you messages when you're off work without realizing that you're unavailable and may not respond in a timely manner. Secure text messaging prevents this from happening and helps you keep your private time private.
- Secure text messaging applications do not require mobile device management (MDM) oversight. IT will not have access to discover, manage, or wipe any of your personal information from your device. Installation of a secure text messaging app is similar to that of any other consumer messaging app on your device. No additional IT management tools come along with the installation. There are no worries about "Big Brother."
- Secure text messaging apps offer a separate inbox and unique ringtones and alerts for work-related messages. Consumer messaging apps store all messages in one place and present them the same way, making it difficult to identify and prioritize important messages, while mixing work with your personal data. Secure text messaging apps can help keep your professional and personal lives separate.
- Secure texting apps use a data connection. Most messages will likely be sent via Wi-Fi, and those that are sent over mobile data networks will take up very little data, so no noticeable costs should normally be incurred with the use of secure texting. Alternatively, consumer SMS-based apps can incur SMS charges. Secure text messaging apps can ensure that you are not charged for each message.
Does your organization currently allow some form of BYOD? Are you using a secure text messaging app in your BYOD environment? I’d love to hear what you’re doing and how things are going—please send me an email or start a conversation on our Facebook or LinkedIn page.
By Jason Stanaland
Jason Stanaland is the mobility solutions consultant at Spok. He works closely with Spok customers on designing and executing mobility strategies, including rollouts of secure messaging solutions. He has over a decade of experience in systems architecture design, enterprise mobility management, IT service management, project management, product marketing, and execution of information technology-related projects. He previously oversaw mobile messaging applications at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Connect with Jason on LinkedIn.