Personal Electronic Devices in Healthcare

March 12, 2019 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Cell phones, smartphones, tablets, and other personal electronic devices (PEDs) are commonplace in healthcare and other workplaces. Use of PEDs has numerous benefits for both caregivers and residents. For staff, advantages include easier communication among staff, instant access to reference materials, and quicker access to health data. For residents, use of PEDs can be a source of empowerment and freedom, and older adults are increasingly embracing technology: according to a 2018 Pew Research study, about 46% of adults older than age 65 own a smartphone—a 19% increase over the 2015 rate. (Pew) PEDs also allow residents to stay easily connected with friends and family.

PEDs have many features that make them beneficial for aging services. Besides enhancing staff communication and linking residents with family and friends, PEDs are also used by physicians to connect to the facility's electronic health record (EHR) system, to monitor vital signs, to promote resident education, and to integrate into a facility's mobile health system.

However, PEDs also present risks, which are discussed below and in Personal Electronic Devices in Healthcare: Know the Risks.

A PED's capability to access, process, and store resident data brings with it a variety of regulatory and legal risks, and these risks must be analyzed to ensure that electronic protected health information (ePHI) is reasonably and appropriately protected. Failure to effectively safeguard ePHI can threaten the integrity and accessibility of resident information, creating safety risks as well as violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) security and privacy rules. (For more information on HIPAA and privacy, see Regulations and Standards.)

The privacy and security of ePHI can be compromised in the following ways:

In addition, the following common...

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