Aruba Networks today released the results from a survey focused on the networking priorities of more than 130 healthcare information technology professionals. The survey clearly shows that hospitals are embracing "Bring Your Own Device" initiatives, but with varying levels of access to business applications.
Of the 85 percent of respondents who said that they are supporting their physicians’ and staffs' use of personal devices at work, 53 percent said that they are currently relegated to Internet access only, while 24 percent provide limited access to hospital applications. Only eight percent currently enable full access to the hospital network with user-owned devices.
"BYOD has really become an increasing issue for us in the past year," said Bryan Safrit, senior network architect for Rex Healthcare in North Carolina. "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. Before obtaining the Aruba solution, Rex could only see the raw number of users hitting its public Internet access. Now, with Aruba's device fingerprinting, Rex is able to get reports on the heaviest bandwidth users based upon the device type, OS type, duration and the amount of traffic used per session. The hospital’s IT team then regulates the available bandwidth to those devices. The Aruba solution gives Rex the ability to control, optimize and secure wireless resources in a more granular and flexible way which in turn allows us to provide a better experience for our customers."
Regarding current and planned network use, 50 percent of those surveyed said that they were planning to expand or refresh their Wi-Fi infrastructure in the next 12 months, while 35 percent said the same for their wired networks. A whopping 93 percent reported that they owned and managed their own network infrastructure, rather than outsourcing it to a network service provider.
Eighty-three percent of survey respondents said that they supported the use of Apple iPads on the network, with 65 percent saying the same for iPhones and iPod touches. Healthcare is one market where Blackberry use still outpaces Android-based devices, with 52 percent supporting the former and 46 percent supporting Android tablets and/or phones.
Fifty-eight percent said that they currently use or plan to use desktop virtualization solutions such as Citrix to enable hospital application use on iPads, while 45 percent said they would use in-house or third-party applications.
Electronic Medical Records (EMR) applications were far and away the most often supported applications on mobile devices, with 60 percent of respondents saying their organizations do so. EMR was followed by picture archiving and communication systems (PACS), Secure Messaging, and Voice over IP (VoIP), each in the 30 percent range.
Seventy-six percent of respondents said that they provide Internet access to patients and visitors, with 58 percent doing so through open networks with no password protection. Seventy-five percent also noted that their hospital applications were available remotely to clinics, physicians and others.
"The responses in this year's healthcare mobility survey align well with what we are seeing in the field," said Gerard Festa, director of healthcare solutions at Aruba. "While there is a lot of interest in BYOD and enabling mobility for applications hospital- or group-wide, most have just begun taking the first steps. We are confident that the percentage of hospitals fully embracing mobility will increase over the next year, with mobile application and device use becoming the norm within the next five years."