BYOD winning the mobility wars, forcing hospitals to expand networks

Eight-five percent of hospitals support a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) networking policy, allowing physicians and staff to use their personal gadgets for work activities, according to a new survey released this week by Aruba Networks, Inc.

"BYOD has really become an increasing issue for us in the past year," Bryan Safrit, senior network architect for Rex Healthcare in North Carolina, said in the survey announcement. "Much more of the traffic we see is from iPhones, iPads and Android devices. Without the ability to differentiate users and enforce policies, our BYOD traffic could overwhelm our bandwidth."

And it shows: About half of respondents say they're going to have to expand or refresh their wi-fi networks in the year ahead, and 35 percent say they're doing the same for their hard-wired networks as well.

Now, while the survey of more than 130 healthcare IT pros shows that BYOD seems to be winning the mobility wars, it also shows CIOs trying to control exactly where users go and what they do on hospital networks.

For example, more than half of those who support personal devices say users are only allowed Internet access, about a quarter provide limited access to actual hospital applications and less than 10 percent allow full access to the network for work tasks, according to the study, "2012 Healthcare Mobility Trends Survey Results."

One challenge to that kind of segregation is the variety of devices that a BYOD policy bring to the party. Respondents say they're supporting iPads (83 percent), iPhones/iPod Touches (65 percent), Blackberry devices (52 percent) and Android units (46 percent).

EMR mobile access is CIOs' top priority in terms of which functionality they're taking mobile (60 percent). But they aren't exactly building native apps to do so--58 percent say they're still using desktop virtualization solutions such as Citrix to port hospital application onto mobile devices.

One interesting if scary tidbit: More than 75 percent of respondents provide Internet access to patients and visitors, but 58 percent admit they use open networks with no password protection to do so.

To learn more:
- check out the Aruba survey
- read the eWeek story
- get more detail from TradersHuddle's coverage