Mobile Devices and Accountability


Risk assessment and the flow of information

Rapidly changing messaging technologies are having an important impact on the way clinicians communicate with each other and with their patients. Those changes, brought about by the availability of personal devices such as smartphones, are making communications more efficient, but are also posing some significant challenges to hospital CIOs as they struggle to adapt to technology advancements, while maintaining control of communications in the enterprise.  I recently had a conversation on the topic of secure messaging with Charles Christian, CIO of Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Ind.  “To me, the number 1 issue is security,” he says. “Texting on cellphones is not secure.”  He gave an example of some clinicians in his organization who were texting information among themselves to coordinate certain activities around their patients. They were not sending identifiable patient information, and were just using initials. Nevertheless, when he learned of the activity, he insisted they stop. He is trying to accommodate their needs by providing a secured messaging service in the hospital. He is also working on a project he calls Unified Communication, with the goal of expediting the process in which caregivers can contact one another. That remains a work in progress.