Bringing your own device (BYOD) to work has become commonplace in virtually every field and industry, and life sciences is no exception. For employees, BYOD is enormously freeing – they can use the devices they want when they want them. For IT departments and companies, BYOD can be a nightmare. There are significant security concerns and compliance issues to navigate regarding mobility. Read on to learn how life science firms can balance the benefits of BYOD with the risks and challenges through best practices.
Imagine that clinical trial participants don’t have to travel to the research site for data collection. Instead, their smart watches transmit vital data to researchers, who can gain the information they need for their studies in real time.
While the widespread implementation of mobile devices within clinical trials is still underway, you can see the impact of mobile technologies in areas of the life sciences industry. Pharmaceutical salespeople bring their tablets to sales meetings with doctors to display digital presentations about their products. Doctors and nurses view medical records on their smartphones and tablets to make timely decisions about care. They use apps to access critical information, to the benefit of patients.
BYOD presents two major challenges to life sciences firms: security and compliance.
When workers bring their own devices to work, the IT department can’t control them as it would a company-owned device. If IT staffers install software on an employee-owned device, they can’t remotely wipe that device if gets lost or stolen because the employee will lose all of his or her personal data. Loss or theft also means that patient information could become exposed.
When confidential data becomes public, the organization that failed to prevent that exposure violates privacy regulations. And those violations have hefty penalties. Moreover, there are other consequences aside from legal and financial ramifications. Patients and other stakeholders will lose trust in the organization, and there’s a chance its reputation might not recover.
Harnessing the benefits of BYOD requires implementing a set of best practices.
Firstly, IT departments must accept that employees are already bringing their devices to work. Either ignoring this fact or prohibiting them from doing so is counterproductive.
Instead, they need to craft a policy that will protect patient information. Education must be a core component of any policy; employees at every level of the organization have to understand that keeping confidential information confidential is paramount, and if they don’t, there are serious consequences. Furthermore, the education component must include lessons on what “risky behavior” means when it comes to mobile devices. Making sure that mobile devices have a password, downloading safe apps, and keeping track of mobile devices are all critical parts of the curriculum.
The company must also enforce the policy consistently. No one can think that he or she is an exception to the rule. Consistent enforcement leads to better policy adherence.