Secure Hospital Staff Communication Devices
Features & Functions of Hospital Communication Devices
As health systems upgrade their technologies, determining which hospital communications devices will work best in their environment is one of the biggest challenges they will face. Here are the top 5 key factors to consider when looking for clinical communication devices:
Ease of Use for Clinical Communication
Health systems must consider how the hospital staff communication device will be used. What is the best size and weight of the device when clinicians are carrying them all day? Does the health system need barcode scanning, the ability to take photos and videos? The adoption rate of devices relies on the ease of use and ability for the unit to function in a healthcare environment. Additionally, the unit must be immediately responsive when touched or swiped when the user is wearing latex gloves.
The communication devices rely on battery life in more ways than typical smart equipment – lives depend on these devices. The battery life will depend on the clinical communication solution applications being used and how much power that requires. There is little to no downtime for healthcare equipment either, which increases the battery usage. Devices need to have interchangeable batteries that can be swapped out easily during a shift so as not to interrupt patient care.
Batteries also have a finite number of recharge cycles and once they reach that limit, they will never fully recharge 100%. This could start draining the internal batteries of devices which will wear them out two to three times faster. Being able to recharge batteries that can be swapped and making more charging stations available will be less costly over the long run.
Durability & Cleanliness
Due to the nature of the fast-paced healthcare environment, hospital staff communication devices must be durable. Equipment is often dropped or mishandled and needs to be able to withstand harsh usage. Many devices use antimicrobial cases, but if they don’t, the unit must be able to endure being wiped with harsh cleaning chemicals without it affecting the integrity of the device.
Securing Hospital Communication Devices
Keeping health systems and their communications solutions safe is increasingly difficult, but not impossible. With the increase in cyberattacks and ransomware, health systems are doing everything they can to keep their hospital staff communication devices safe. Security for devices is based on the type of device, operating system and version being run. There are known issues with all the operating systems out there, and manufacturers send out security patches all the time. But malicious hackers are always looking for a new way to break into systems and security and IT departments must stay ahead of the curve.
A separate challenge is that most providers are using their own technology for communications (usually smartphones). This requires that health systems set up separate rules for BYOD situations than for hospital staff communications devices which are shared among clinicians. This includes educating those using their own devices on how to identify apps they can safely install and making sure they download OS updates on a regular basis.
Mobile Device Management
Health systems also must consider including an MDM (mobile device management) policy on both BYOD and health system-owned devices in case these devices are lost or stolen. Having an MDM solution can provide several safeguards to the devices deployed in your enterprise. They allow the health system to control updates from an OS level down to the applications used on the communication solutions.
Subscribing to the security bulletins for their specific communication device manufacturers as well as the operating system specifically allows the healthcare IT team to be alerted when an exploit does come to the surface. Patches can be quickly downloaded, or the problem can be blocked before it infiltrates the health system. Basic MDM can control sign-ons and wiping devices, but many health systems are looking for even more control from a security and compliance standpoint.